I neither understand the purpose nor the strategy of my Nepali brothers and sisters who take their protests to the streets. Ever since India allegedly imposed economic sanctions on Nepal, Nepali citizens have been going through a rough time in the wake of the coming harsh winter. It is absolutely true that the Nepali people are suffering from the current economic blockade, which has lasted for months with no end in sight. Who is responsible for the blockade? Is it truly India?
The Nepali media, like Fox news in the U.S., are clearly biased; they cannot be trusted to report the truth. India has not officially declared an economic embargo on Nepal, so we cannot blame the Modi government even though most Nepalis believe that he is behind the embargo. It is true that goods are not coming into Nepal from India; they are being withheld somewhere by someone. So the question is: Who are those individuals or organizations and what is their agenda?
I have spoken with reliable individuals in Kathmandu who point their fingers at the Madhesis. They believe that Madhesis are behind the economic embargo, intending to bring the present Nepali government to its knees in order to meet their demands. Is there any truth to this allegation? If so, are there any pundits, political leaders, or government officials in or outside Nepal who can shed light on this issue? If the Madhesis are causing the problem, our government should try to resolve it through negotiation. It then becomes Nepal’s problem. Then why not try to address the grievance of the Madhesis rather than creating ill-will and animosity with the neighbor.
The present living situation in Nepal is getting worse every day with a lack of fuel, food, and medicine – the basic necessities of life. It is clear that people are not receiving these necessities. Members of my own family live in Kathmandu and I know the situation well; at this point, it is critical. I am on the telephone with them every day. There definitely is a shortage of goods. If one is willing to fork out an obscene amount of money for certain items, one can still buy them. But can a citizen on a fixed income afford to do that on a daily basis? Absolutely not. This shows that the goods haven’t completely run out; they are being stockpiled for profit. The rich, the political leaders, and the high-ranking government officials are driving cars and living the same lifestyle as before these problems began.
It is easy to blame someone else for our problems, but we must not take the escapist route. In view of the hardships that ordinary citizens are having to endure, the Nepali government should assume responsibility for the problem and try to resolve it. Let us not make “one person’s tragedy is another person’s gain” come true. We all know that someone is benefitting from this self-created tragedy. Who might that be? Kathmandu’s merchants and the rich, needless to say, stockpiled goods before they saw what was coming.
It’s a fact that there is a large Nepali diaspora in the U.S. consisting of intellectually and economically well-to-do individuals. As an organized group, they have the power to influence those who are responsible for the current situation in Nepal. However, the kinds of community actions they are doing aren’t effective; they are causing noise, yet not turning this noise into powerful action.
It seems we are good at making noise – our actions become a spectacle at best. What good does it do to have a procession in the streets with Nepali flags and placards demanding “Back off India”? As a spectator, what am I to guess from this—that India has invaded Nepal?
We aren’t going to get any sympathy from our American friends in our own internal matters. I have spoken with a few political scientists on the college campus where I teach and a few government officials (who remain nameless for obvious reasons) – and think that these are ineffective or even counterproductive measures.
We stand to gain sympathy from the authorities if we write well-crafted letters to congressmen and senators at the state and federal levels. We could write to the U.N. Secretary General. Instead of marching in the streets of New York and San Francisco, we could sit quietly in front of the offices of the Indian Embassy and Indian Consulate General. That would have gotten us some media coverage. Why not create a petition to the Modi government and hand-deliver the letter to the Indian Ambassador and Consulate General? While we are on the topic of letter writing, why not also write one to Nepali Prime Minister urging him to find a solution to the current problem? Hasn’t the situation dragged on too long? Because this is Nepal’s problem, we must open a dialog with the Prime Minister of Nepal. If the Nepali government cares about its citizens, should it not try to resolve this problem by itself? Do they not realize that the people have had enough, especially in light of the massive earthquake that took many lives and destroyed so much property? Why hasn’t the government done anything? What are they waiting for? Are they waiting for other nations to come to their aid, again, remembering all the foreign assistance Nepal received when natural disaster struck the country? Many nations, organizations, and general citizens gave money openly without asking any questions. Whatever happened to the billions of dollars collected for earthquake relief?
Now we again are asking for help from foreign nations. The only difference is that we are not asking for money, but to intervene in our internal affairs. Aren’t we being hypocritical by using a double standard? When India asked our government to make some amendments to the new constitution, we accused India of meddling with Nepal’s internal affairs. But when there is an economic crisis partly created by our own government/people, we are mobilizing our efforts to ask foreign agencies, governments, and citizens to make India back off. Isn’t that an intrusion of India’s internal affairs?