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Ask what you can do for your country


JUGAL BHURTEL


Joti Giri in the London Eye column ('Herd mentality', #181) admonished non-resident Nepalis (NRNs) for not getting "more business savvy before asking what we can do for the country." Indeed, a few overseas Nepalis and some of their friends in Nepal consider the entire NRN movement a fallacy.

At times, seeing things in the right perspective through the famously dense London fog probably gets much harder even for the discerning London Eye. Giri insinuates that participants at the first NRN Conference last October in Kathmandu were mainly tanduri cooks returning to Nepal in search of recognition and the Nepali Diaspora itself is a "community with herd mentality".

Often, the confusion arises when we start comparing an NRN with an NRI (non-resident Indian). There are second, third and fourth generations of non-resident Indians stretching across the globe. An estimated 20 million overseas Indians contribute up to 10 percent of India's foreign direct investment. Many global Indians occupy places of pride in their adopted lands.

The participants of the first NRN conference were not gathered in Kathmandu to have "15 minutes of fame". It was a joint effort of the HMG, FNCCI and a few NRN enthusiasts to forge a constructive relationship between the nation and the diaspora. The results are already in evidence. It has inspired fragmented Nepali communities around the globe to join hands. Several NRN national coordination committees have been formed. The Non-Resident Nepali Ordinance 2060 is waiting for approval, which proposes to provide a clear definition of NRNs and people of Nepali origin (PNOs), recognise the contribution of unskilled and semi-skilled workers, permit PNOs to buy or inherit properties in Nepal, eliminate double taxation on invested capital, allow their repatriation, permit NRNs to open bank accounts and invest abroad and so on. It took India years to create a legal framework, we achieved it in a few months.

People who ask questions like "who in their sane mind would invest in Nepal under the current political and economic climate?" have no idea that NRNs have already been investing money in Nepal. A team of NRNs from Moscow has spent approximately Rs 1 billion in hydropower, healthcare, media, education and banking ventures. A concept paper for a technical university incorporating medical, engineering and agricultural fields of study with an estimated cost of $50 million has been submitted to the Ministry of Education.

The Nepali Diaspora of Russia has agreed to finance Rs 9 million to build a kriyaputri bhawan in the Pashupatinath Temple complex as a part of Pashupati Area Development Project. North American Nepalis are financing a hundred-room bridhashram project in Devghat. At a recently held meeting in Kathmandu, the International Coordination Council of NRN Association took a bold decision to mobilise Nepalis around the world to explore socially beneficial projects in all 75 districts of Nepal. It sounds ambitious, but a strong tie with Nepal begins from our emotional attachment to our villages, towns and districts. Such projects do not need huge funds. Even a tiny part of the tanduri sau's weekly income in London would bring smiles to many children desperately in need of primary schools in remote areas of Nepal.

You really don't have to wait until you acquire such abilities to get involved. Note the Nepali communities in Qatar and UAE who are discussing the import of vegetables from Nepal. While it may appear insignificant, more than 150,000 Nepalis residing in these two countries are connected to Kathmandu by Qatar Airways flights every week. If they decide to consume vegetables imported only from Nepal, just imagine the impact on vegetable growers back home!

The Nepali diaspora in the Middle East is showing us the way. Will Nepalis in places like London, New York and Washington follow suit in making resolutions to buy 'only-Nepali-te&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#'&#̵'216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;216;', 'only-Nepali-carpet'?

Yes, we "must evolve" and "get more business savvy" to achieve more. But we must recognize our initial success, believe in ourselves, and keep moving in a positive direction.

Dr Jugal Bhurtel is an environmental researcher based in Moscow


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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