Nepali Times
ARTHA BEED
Economic Sense
Bipalis galore


ARTHA BEED


DAMBAR KRISHNA SHRESHTHA
BOSTON: This Beed estimates that the number of Nepalis living in the United States has crossed the half-million mark, with a high concentration in the east coast. More and more Nepalis are seen on trains, in restaurants and on college campuses. There are two distinct kinds of Nepalis living abroad. There are the older set who ask for your surname and home village, claim to have powerful connections and read Nepali news portals instead of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. They are as fatalistic as ever and despite having spent decades here and still love to tell you why Nepal has no hope.

Then there is a fresh set of young Nepalis who aren't keen on opportunities in Nepal. From the talks at the Washington Nepal Forum in Washington DC to Harvard to Brown University, it is refreshing to see Nepalis who do want to understand Nepal from a perspective that does not involve politics.

For Nepalis, migrating has been way of life. They have been doing it for over two centuries, mainly because they see no hope in Nepal. Politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen alike often prefer their children to stay out of the country they themselves have helped shape. However, interest in Nepal, especially among second generation Nepalis in the US, is building. The Asia Center at Boston University has hosted speakers who have eked out a living in conflict-torn Nepal, and a group of students from Harvard Business School is coming to Nepal on a trekking cum exposure visit. Everyone, it seems, is interested to know more about a country uniquely situated between two galloping economies.

For the bipali community here, the issues haven't changed. Many play out the Nepali penchant for politicking in associations, but others are less interested in becoming an association president than getting work done. For instance, the Chalphal Group in Boston continues to help the Nepali community there interact with visitors and scholars from Nepal, and is successful largely because it is informal and unstructured. The same goes for the Washington Nepal Forum, which continues to host interesting programs. Perhaps more such efforts are required.

Debates on migration hosted by such groups are always interesting. Some, 'parachute consultant' types who think they know everything about Nepal, need constant reminding that migration is by no stretch new for Nepal. Many Nepalis migrated to Assam and Darjeeling as far back as the mid-nineteenth century. India and China, which receive the highest number of migrants and remittances globally, have stopped contemplating its merits. They realise that in a globalising world political boundaries are losing relevance.

The success of the European Union and now talk of an Asian Economic Union show that as communication becomes easier, cultural differences will dissipate, and a homogenous culture that relies heavily on technology will grow. Nepal will slowly become where Nepalis are and it will be immaterial where a person resides.

So welcome to the building of Nepal in the United States.

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


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