The Invisible Nepalis
One of my teachers in middle school used to say, “Everyone can’t become a doctor. We also need rickshaw pullers.” I didn’t think he was funny.
As I reflect on the opportunities available to most Nepalis, I realize that most often don’t have a choice but to end up becoming rickshaw drivers or laborers. They are people who don’t have access to resources to make their lives better. They remain invisible in our country.
Only 12-15 percent of Nepalis live in or around urban centers; 23 million live in rural areas. Most of them are poor. Traditional social hierarchy prevents them from climbing up the economic ladder. How people treat them, or which water pump they have access to, is determined by their caste and gender, rather than their character. And their economic interests are not advocated in Singh Durbar and mainstream media.
Inequality has risen in the last decade. Nepal is one of the most unequal societies in the the world. According to the latest Nepal living standard survey, its top 10 percent population takes up more than 40 percent income, while more than 25 percent of the population doesn’t even make Nrs 54 per day.
Those who believe that poverty is confined within certain geographic regions are misguided. It’s everywhere. But you have better odds of not being poor if you live in a certain region or if you were born to a certain caste.
Your per capita income as a hill Brahman is likely to be two times higher than a Madhesi Dalit's. You are 10 times more likely to live in poverty if you are in Mustang or Saptari than if you are in Kaski
These numbers paint a picture of persistent exclusion of those at the lower socio-economic ladder. Inequality is a powerful threat to our stability and progress.
It’s useful to keep in mind that exclusion isn’t the only cause of inequality in Nepal. We often believe that getting into a good school or securing a good job is only possible if you have social ties to people in powerful positions. I know a lot of people who simply believe that hard work would not improve their life prospects; they believe that one's chances are determined more by one's caste and ties with someone wealthy.
Economic mobility can change inequality and nepotism. It will happen when we eliminate barriers that prevent people at bottom of the economic ladder to fully participate in the economy.
Yet we barely talk about ways to empower people economically. Today the country is largely embroiled in discussion about ethnic representation. We know that all 125 caste/ethnicity in Nepal have hierarchy within themselves. Political representation alone will not lead to economic mobility of those at the bottom of each of these ethnicities. We must address economic inequality as we work to address political representation.
I believe whether you are a Manadhar or a Magar, you are looking for ways to earn a decent income. Whether you are born in Mahottari or Morang, you deserve a chance to succeed in life. As we continue to debate about ethnic representation in Nepal, we must ensure that there are no barriers to live a dignified life for every Nepali despite of his/her gender, ethnicity and religion.
Calling for a Public Debate on CSOs
The solution suggested by many, i.e. delegitimizing and killing off NGOs through regulatory mechanisms, harks back to the days of the Partyless Panchayat System, when the right to organize and associate freely was overridden by the state’s preoccupation with control, coordination, and uniformity.
Nepal facing disaster in the recovery from earthquakes
The disaster in earthquake recovery is as visible in the politics of power around the national disaster recovery institutions and aid-funded programs, as in local places where the earthquake victims continue to struggle for rebuilding houses and regain a normal life, for nearly two years now.
Dr Hemant R Ojha
Ideologies on T-shirts
In my opinion, Buddha was a great revolutionary, as was Einstein. Anything that challenges the present way of thinking about life is a revolution. In student politics, when it comes to revolution, the only blood I want to imagine being used is that flows into your brain and comes out energized with new ideas with every heartbeat.
Rules are made with keeping greater public safety in mind and mandatory helmet rule is an example. But it is equally true that majority of riders do not care to strap helmets as necessary.
Menstrual taboo outdated
I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.
Physicians are humans too!
To err is human. People make mistakes. Clinicians are no exception. But as soon as a patient or a person enters a doctor’s room, he or she forgets that the doctor too is a human being and expects too much from him or her.