And So It Goes…

By Amar B. Shrestha

It’s good to be vindicated, and currently I am hitting the mark as far as the topics I have been writing on in Friday’s “Issues That Matter” column are concerned. Yesterday, the government announced the slashing of public holidays by almost half. That’s what I was complaining about in “Holidays Galore” (Issue 314, Oct 2017), about Nepal having an inordinately large number of holidays.

In Issue 307, Jan 2017, in “Police My Friend”, I had given a chart on how rape cases have been on the increase and that the police should be serious about preventing it. Recent headlines in dailies are about this, exactly. Similarly, in “Seekers of Fortune” in Issue 396, June 2017, my subject was the crisis hitting the Middle East, and how this would affect the flow of Nepali labor, and that already, remittances were on a declining trend. Well, presently, the banks are facing an acute liquidity crunch leading to stagnancy in the economic scenario, and decline in remittances is cited as a major reason for this.

In “Fatal Flights” (Issue 305, March 2017) I had recounted the high number of accidents involving domestic flights in the country. Well, it is the pre-monsoon season that sees more of such accidents, but the tragedy of the US Bangladesh Airlines crash already is a grim precursor. Nothing much has changed regarding infrastructural improvements and technological advances, and in fact, due to increased number of flights, the situation is worse than before. The scenes are pretty chaotic in arrivals, with four-five planes landing, and passengers crowding around the slow-moving baggage carousels. Same is the case with departures, with passengers often having to sit sometimes for hours in the plane on the tarmac, waiting for a clear path to take off.

With the government now showing some teeth and decisive power, I hope I’ll also be vindicated in being optimistic about the country’s future, as I have been in “Waiting for a Miracle” (Issue 310, Aug 2017), “Sparkling Deepawali, Sparkling Melamchi, Sparkling Nepal” (Issue 315, Oct 2017), “’Faster, Better, Easier’, New Motto of New Nepal” (Issue 317, Nov 2017), and “2018, Promises Galore” (Issue 318, Dec 2017).

However, keeping past considerations in mind, one cannot but be skeptical to some extent. Too many times we have been duped by the silken words of politicians and swayed by the bravado of political parties that promise the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun once they come to power, but in an incredibly short span of time, they are back to their usual nefarious shenanigans. So, I am still more on the pessimistic side, some reasons of which you may discover in “Loser, or Maybe Not” (Issue 323, Feb 2018) and “Dark Clouds on the Horizon” (Issue 324, March 2018).

This mood was actually brought about the realization that we are not just one hundred years back in development compared to the developed world, but really much, much, more even than that. This new-found realization was due to me two-month stay in the U.S.A., and the immediate feeling I experienced on “Arriving Home” (Issue 322, Feb 2018) after traveling through Miami and Istanbul and landing at TIA in Kathmandu.

Finally, I have always been shouting from the rooftops that the number one enemy of the underdeveloped world is not lack of resources and opportunities, but rather, the overwhelming shadow of institutionalized corruption (“Corruption Blues” Issue 316, Nov 2017). And so, if this government is really as noble minded as they say they are, then it is corruption, the scourge of development, that needs to be tackled without wasting any more time, and some really harsh steps have to be taken. The cancer of corruption has taken very deep roots, and it will certainly require superhuman efforts to uproot it and burn it forever in the fire of social justice.