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.
Challenges for reconstruction
One of the major challenges faced in the reconstruction process of Nepal is the absence of elected local government. Lack of government in local level was reflected in the major pre-disaster and post-disaster events, where it took months to reach the affected region and still no widely-accepted data is available. In the absence of an elected local government, top-down approach of governance has its own accountability deficit.
Apil KC/Keshab Sharma
Making sense of Adityanath's rise in Modi's India
The most notorious incitement of communal hatred by Adityanath was his exhortation to 'kill ten woh log ['them' meaning Muslims]' rather than knocking the doors of legal system 'if one Hindu is killed' in riots.
Kathmandu means so much to me, and it looks like for people who promise to be the agent of change for the better, their own names mean a lot. A lot more than Kathmandu it seems.
Identity and nationhood
Whoever says nationhood is not important would be lying. For example, belonging to a particular nation may give certain advantages to a person that one belonging to another nation would not get.
Traffic Police in Kathmandu
As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.
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.