Long Way Home

Rabindra Mishra has a provocation op-ed at NagarikNews. It’s about migration and how it is affecting Nepali society, families and our values.

I thought about the piece all day long. It is a sad reality that wave of migration has left many elderly parents without the loving care of their children and grandchildren. In some cases, children and infants are left behind as parents seek opportunities abroad.

For majority of Nepali migrants, leaving home is a necessity. Lack of opportunities, seemingly never ending cycle of instability and bad economy forces thousands to venture abroad. It is no picnic and it is no fun to be an economic migrant.

Some do go abroad not out of necessity but seeking something better, they are the lucky ones(comparatively), they had a choice. But nevertheless, leaving home is a harrowing experience and no matter how much you try, the years just add to the emotional and social emptiness inside you.

So it really pinched me when Mishra, painting a broad stroke, describes us-the migrants, as party hoppers who couldn’t care less about those we left behind.

During Dashain, Tihar,Nepalis living abroad, majority of them, are not happy. In some corner of their heart, there is a deep pain and sense of isolation. Party hopping is last thing they think about, as they try to celebrate the best they can while the heart longs for home and family.

I have yet to meet a Nepali living in diaspora who is at peace with leaving frail parents at home. Don’t understand why Mishra saw us all as carless party
animals!

And on Nepal needing us, I agree. Every citizen
is duty bound to serve the nation and Nepal does need us. But the idea that if the migrants-the qualified and educated ones return, as Mishra clarifies, the country will get better-is a suspect.

Nepal has some deeply entrenched issues that need to be dealt with at the state level. Yes, citizen campaigns and t-shirt sloganeering are all fine and positive steps, for some issues they just don’t cut it. For instance, what is the state’s policy on militant unions and their economic terrorism? What is the policy on education reform and do we have a coherent national security policy?

Citizen participation can only go so far on these and other issues that need state level leadership and dialog. Our leaders and parties are too preoccupied to think about these far reaching matters. And until these
matters are sorted out the country will continue to bleed people. Whether the migrants return or not does not matter until these fundamentals are fixed.

It is also disappointing to see that Mishra totally omitted our political leaders from the mix. It is easy to paint the migrants as selfish, but why did he allow the leaders and parties to go scot free?

Nationalism, patriotism and similar sentiments are honorable, but for a hungry man/woman they don’t mean much. Idealism suits the haves, but Nepal is country of have nots. So, if I may, would like to suggest Rabindra Mishra to get off idealism and get back to reality and push for practical solutions.We can start by offering tax and other incentives to Nepalis abroad who would like to invest in the country and clarity on the issue of dual citizenship.

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