Everyone prayed for miracles as the news of the rescue operations of the helicopter crash poured in early this week. But given the terrain of our country, lack of contemporary rescue operations, hardware, and software it is rare for such miracles to actually happen. The tragedy has been costly: the development world lost pioneers and innovators-people who questioned the status quo, who criticised and were criticised back, hated and envied, but, they could not be ignored.
It was difficult to argue with Harka Gurung even if you disagreed with him. People like Mingma Norbu Sherpa and Chandra Prasad Gurung brought new thoughts into the development world paradigm. They strived to work on a strategy that revolved around the community. While many development practitioners would lecture at length on 'inclusive development', they were the few who actually made it happen. There is rarely a place in the Annapurna circuit where they were not lauded and it is rare for development workers to become household names.
It is also important to understand that non-government initiatives succeed if the government is either silent like in the boom of the IT industry or if there are champions in the government who support these initiatives. Tirtha Man Maskey was one such relentless person in the government who encouraged for things to happen rather than put a spanner like most bureaucracies are known for.
Indeed, the loss of these individuals is a great blow to the conservation and the development world but this Beed sees more. In the Nepali and development world of corruption, nepotism and favouritism, they stood out as role models who ensured that they derived their strength from being apolitical and clean. The energy they provided to colleagues and friends were through the stand they took vis-?-vis all odds rather than succumb to political or any other pressure. When people are asked to name a few successful Nepali professionals, then these individuals would surely feature at the top of the list.
Surely, the world of Nepali conservation, biodiversity and community oriented development will never be the same, but there are many leaders they have mentored who can perhaps keep the flag flying high. Their loss should be the fuel for accelerating more innovative interventions to emerge with more creative models in the development paradigm.
For the young Nepalis who find a dead-end to Nepal's future, those who complain of the 'khattam' situation and are desperate to find the next escape flight from the 'perceived mess,' there is leaf of learning from their lives. Reading the biographies of Mingma and Chandra would give one hope-where one can reach even if the starting point is some small obscure village in Nepal.
Their lives have been shortened, but what they achieved in their lifetime is much more than many lives put together.