Nepali Times
Publisher\'s Note
Celebrating what's good about Nepal


The favourite Nepali pastime is sitting around trying to find nasty things to say about each other. But what is it in our collective psyche that we just can't bear to see fellow Nepalis get ahead?

We overlook the visible faults in ourselves but spend endless hours digging out the imagined shortcomings of fellow citizens. And since our rulers spend their entire time running each other down, we in the media treat this spectacle as one endless quarrel. There can't be civilised disagreement on issues, the basis of potential compromise, because positions are unbending and personalised.

This obsession with finding fault is self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling. This refusal to see any goodness in our own kind makes it difficult to forge ahead. We love to whine but don't ever want to do anything about bettering our condition. It's as if we want Nepal to fail so that our own catastrophic predictions about its fate will be proven right. We don't want Nepal to turn the corner because that would undermine the reason we use to convince ourselves to do nothing, or emigrate.

Despite their desperation and despair, rural Nepalis still have faith in the future, they still have hope. It is their resilience and the Nepali reliance on each other and their communities that has allowed them to survive and keep a positive outlook, something rare in the denizens of this pampered capital.

Let's face it, it's not original any more to complain about how bad things are. Load-shedding is here to stay. There is nothing new about the garbage piling up on the streets. Corruption is not new. The energy crisis, political instability, strikes, pollution and grime are all givens. You can complain, but you will be predictable and boring.

The real question is: what are we doing as individuals and communities to make things better? We have plenty of examples of successful people here who have done well for the underprivileged, overcoming what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. Take the Chhetrapati Free Clinic or the Samata School (pic), for instance. There are many Nepalis who contribute to improving lives of citizens just by being honest, efficient and aware of the larger public good in their everyday lives.

Let's invest more energy in making ourselves proud to be Nepali. Individually and collectively let's celebrate what is still good about Nepal: our country's beauty and diversity, our dignified and hardworking people, our generosity and sense of self-worth.

1. trish--- melb
uve nailed the issue ........editor.............appreciate ur views on wat we can do rather than wat we complain abt. Its same with life .....nothings gonna change complaining....... we as individuals must make a difference and contribute somethin worthy

2. trish
go that actions sud speak louder than words .. i feeel.......

3. Arthur
A perfect example is your regular column "The Ass". Lets celebrate how great it is that Nepal provides outlets for publishers with disabilities like multiple personality disorder. Checkout the latest from "the Ass" and compare with the fine words from "the publisher".

4. Johann
Arthur, you are so predictable you are boring, man.

5. Maharajadhiraj...
Johann, stop whinging like a six year old. Arthur is god, endowed with superhuman intelligence, and equipped with some sort of x-ray vision prowess to identify and chafe out the bad and the ugly amongst us. We bunch of illiterate, ignorant and intellectually challenged one liners can only hope of possessing such cerebral supremacy one day. Plus he is a foreigner in Nepal. So he is right.

6. Anonymous
Arthur, get a life man, that column has to be the best example of somebody actually having a sense of humor. And, just in case you felt offended because of the Maoist reference, it makes good fun of absolutely everybody in the Nepali politics.

7. Alok
Yes, that is the main point. Look at the civil society leaders. They are all the times whinning about the political party leaders but they are shameless than the leaders. Except a few, 95% of these socalled civic leaders are minting money in the name of poor Nepalese. In facts, most of the new buildings around Ring Roads are occupied by them. They earn more than these CA members per annum. They are the most affulent groups in Nepal. What they do? They serve INGOs and Non-Nepali organizations, unfortunately in the name of sderving Nepalese people. Check their properties and check how fake their income declarations are. They are the blood suckers of the present political problems. Why? It is in their interests that the crisis continues and donors ontinue pouring money to them.

8. Arthur
Anonymous, of course its true the "the Ass" tries to "make fun of absolutely everybody in the Nepali politics" (whether or not it is more biased against the Maoists). But isn't that exactly so typical of the negative Nepalese culture that the publisher's note is about? Cynicism can sometimes be humorous. But if the Ass is the "best example" of a sense of humour in Nepal it is really rather sad. Imagine if the Ass had been influenced by the publishers note and had made some jokes about the complacent middle class in Nepal and how they helplessly blame the politicians for their fate?

9. Nirmal
When a country functions normally(a country can function without being rich and strong), there are basically somethings that make anyone feel it. You don't need to have sixth sense or be expert to realise so, anyone from the street is able to recognise it. So, when a society passes through duress the beauty of criticism generally leads to the path of solutions(the sense of criticism in developed and civilised society is much more flourished, why so being prosperous ?). Those who cannot see goodness through wicked things are less able to taste the goodness. For citizenship education, we must necessarily include the proposals of social movements that are reaching the population with all its outreach activities, protests etc.., Then, there's the germ of conscience and action that is capable of opposing the existing(supoosedly badness), it is crucial that the population receive a critical view about a problem and even have connections with promising people involved (this includes free Press -I don't know how exactly the front runners of this cause in Nepal define this term "Press Freedom"-), if only it is the folk-people who brings a different view, then it is difficult to generate changes of critical consciousness. Goodness is not possible unless you can identify evil deeds properly. In a country of 30 million, 2 or 200 or 20000 personal successes mean unfortunately unsufficient.

10. kuire manche
arthur: there is a difference between satirical, tongue-in-cheek criticism that exposes the absurdity of a situation (the ass) and the more unproductive kind that functions as a self-justifying coping mechanism (which this article laments).

11. Anonymous
Arthur, thanks for proving that like all communists you have absolutely no sense of humor at all. This has always been the problem with you Maoists, the party is always right, the party never says sorry, the party never admits its mistakes, and the party can never laugh.

12. Arthur
kuire manche, yes that is exactly the difference. Perhaps I have no sense of humour. Could anyone help by drawing attention to some paragraph of The Ass this week that does not function "as a self-justifying coping mechanism"? Anonymous, perhaps you could identify a paragraph that struck you as especially funny? For what it's worth I laughed when I read "Maharadjhiraj" comment 5 because it was funny and well done, even though it was directed at me. But the Asses "jokes" against Sujata Koirala and GPK and JKN seemed to me no more funny than those against Maoists. There is a difference between satire and asinine.

13. R RAI
A beautiful article - simple but with a powerful message. What impressed me was editor's correct diagnosis of our collective psyche(to be presise the psyche of Khaldo's "pampered" denizens and similar others).More importantly, I find it inspiring because he has been able to see and appreciate good things happening in rural communities (hope,resilience and interdependence) and great individuals and endeavours surviving and flourishing amongst back-biting,cynisism and our pervasive inability/lack of capacity to see good in others. No doubt, a serious soul- searching and paradigm shift is required by Khaldo's denizens,political leaders and intellectuals if we want to save Nepal.Let us try and see good things in others and celebrate people like Mr Sanjel,Mahabir Pun and Dr Shankar Rai.

14. Budabaaje
"Let's invest more energy in making ourselves proud to be Nepali ..let's celebrate.. our country's beauty and diversity, our dignified and hardworking people, our generosity and sense of self-worth." Well, to me this sounds exactly like what the monarchy used to say and promote. Yet the monarchy was an evil force. so we're told. The same thing when spoken by the monarchy would probably be labelled unitary-ism, oppression, suppression, senseless propaganda, ultra-nationalist, maybe even autocratic, feudal, etc etc, even by this paper itself. Now when the same thing is said by its publisher, Kunda Dixit, what are we to make of it? Beautiful, great, inspiring, er, original? ..the ironies of life!

15. jange
Maybe the author has been meeting the wrong people. The Nepalis that I have met have have almost always been, kind, courteous, friendly, helpful. Even the Maoists (God bless their sweet hearts) began their extortion meeting with, "Now, please don't think of us as criminals... " .

16. jange
This reminds me of a story of the man who was walking along and asked an old man what the people in the next village were like. The old man asked what the people in the village that he had just come from were like. The man replied that they were a bunch of terrible thieving crooks etc. etc. The old man said that the people in the next village were similar to the one he had just visited. Then along came another man and asked the same question and the old man replied in the same way. The man responded that the people in the last village were wonderful- vey helpful, kind, generous etc.etc. The old man replied that the people in the next village were similar to the people of the village he had just come from.

17. Arthur
Budabaaje, the irony is very clear as you say. But your conclusion seems to be that when the Monarchy said such "inspiring" things people should have continued to believe the words instead of looking at the reality under the Monarchy. When supporters of the current status quo offer the same sort of "inspiring" homilies, the same sort of people do believe them, and the same sort of people who yesterday praised the status quo under the Monarchy will today praise the new status quo, which is indeed better and is as far as such people are willing to go. But there are other sorts of people too, who really are determined to keep moving forward rather than to keep singing praises of the status quo. Often the same people who write empty "inspiring" things also write equally empty cynical things. Wasn't that true of the Monarchy too? Wasn't the Monarchy very clear about how corrupt and useless the politicians are? Did either the Monarchy's inspirational speeches or the Monarchy's contempt for the politicians actually help fix the problems faced by the majority of people in Nepal?

18. Battisputali
"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sail"-- William Arthur Ward (quoted in the Foreign Policy website) :) And, for those interested, with open minds, and a little time on their hands, I have this to share: I realize this is from an American context, but there are a lot of parallels to what citizens can do within Nepal. The active citizen who acts, adjusts the sail so to say, is the foundation of a functioning democracy.

19. Budabaaje
Well, Arthur, I don't see that the Maoists coming to power has fixed anything either. In fact, I see that it's made things worse for majority of Nepalis, rich and poor alike. We were on an upward trajectory, but the Maoist war lost us a whole decade. Many people died. Now we are on the verge of hating and killing each other. Unseen and unheard of in our history (for a long, long time). Maoists say a lot of nice sounding things, but there's no action. In action they keep giving trouble to people and exploiting the poor and naive. That's all.

20. jange
Or maybe we should follow the revolutionary path and just kill anyone who doesn't agree with us- see Ms. Aryal's article in this issue. That would be truly agragaman.

21. Arthur
Battisputali, thanks for the link in #18. I agree that despite the American context it seems very relevant indeed to Nepal (and to the topic of this article). Budabaaje, you might find it interesting too. The kind of action that fixes things does not come from the "upward trajectory" of donor projects but from peoples ability to organize things as described at that link. This requires different social relations among people from those that still exist in Nepal. But people like jange are shouting so much because they were unable to kill enough of those who want change before and are still unable to unleash more hating and killing now, although they will keep shouting for it. I find it strange that you "don't see that the Maoists coming to power has fixed anything either". The Maoists only won an election, they have not yet come to power and those still clinging to power are clinging to it to prevent the kind of changes in social relationships that would enable people to fix things.

22. Budabaaje
Arthur, perhaps because you're a "foreigner" you think yourself a bit 'baatho' and me, a local, a bit 'laato' in need of your "teaching". Thank you, but no thnk u. I know enough to know that upward trajectory is "upward" whether it comes from donors or wherever. It's the direction of the trajectory that matters, not where it comes from. On the other hand, for all your pompous lecturing you don't seem bright enough to see that Nepal's trajectory now is "downwards" and has been so for a decade thanks to your mother party and its ideas about the right kind of "social relations"! Ya, the same social relations that took Russia where it did, that keeps North Korea where it is, and keeps Cubans running away from Cuba, I suppose. Many thanks, Arthur. If you're so keen about such social relations, I wish you the best to implant them in your own country instead of coming here to lecture us about it!

23. Arthur
Budabaaje, if you think only the direction of a trajectory matters and not where it comes from you will have to blame "Maoists" again when you throw a ball up in the air  but then the same ball hits you in the face as you look up at it admiring its "upward trajectory". Nepal is still dominated by the same social relations and still locked in the same conflict.

In comment #19 you expressed your belief that the Maoists are in power now. On that basis you blamed them for not fixing things and now also for a "downward trajectory". Even though I am a foreigner and you are a Nepali I do not think you will ever be able to convince anybody else that the Maoists are in power in Nepal now. You will have the same difficulty convincing me that I have ever supported the social relations in Russia, North Korea or Cuba as you would have in convincing anybody in those countries that their rulers are or ever were Maoists.

BTW the link Battisputali provided and I recommended to you was pro-American, not Maoist. I still like it and I still think you might find it interesting. Here it is again:

24. Jim STanley
..the very fact you exist in the face of such horrendous events in the recent past is a testimony to what is good about Nepal. Yes, there are challenges..and for sure, there will be more to come. But Nepal's diversity, intellectual resources, thriving civil society, free media and its people are all things that cannot be taken for granted.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)