Nepali Times
Guest Column


People often ask me: "You could live anywhere in the world, why have you decided to invest in Nepal?" Actually, I have a very selfish reason for doing so. It is in my self-interest that my country becomes prosperous.

Because of globalisation, countries are vying to attract the best, brightest, richest investors with offers of citizenship. But whichever citizenship you finally decide to take up, deep down, your features, complexion, behaviour and culture still keep you a Nepali.

Even a Nepali with American citizenship remains a Nepali. If you answer "I am an American" to anyone, the next question is invariably: "But where are you from originally?" Even to Nepalis born in America, the question is: "Where did your parents come from?"

And the way you are treated will depend on your ancestry, on where your family originally came from. Which is why when we meet an Afghan, we see that person through the prism of that country's tragic conflict. In other words, you can change your citizenship but you can't change who you are.

Just because I become an American, I can't stake my claim to that country's success. Until my country of origin becomes more prosperous, neither I, nor my children and their children can hold their heads high. Today, you may be a professor, a successful businessman, a labourer, but the Nepal tag comes with a slight stain. All because of the state of the motherland.

If Nepal were on the path to progress and prosperity, we wouldn't be so tempted to seek our fortunes elsewhere. And even if we became citizens of another country our origins would get more respect. This is why I am investing in Nepal, I want to be proud of my homeland.

Nepal can be put on a path of rapid growth and development within 10-12 years. It is not so difficult. Just look at where Russia was in 1990 after the Soviet collapse. If you were Russian in those days you were automatically associated with the mafia. Russians suffered because of what Russia had become. But all it took was a strong leader to set things right within a few years.

Nepal is a compact country, it is easy to get results. You don't need oil, gas or minerals to be developed. If we were as aggressive about development as we are about politics, and adapted culturally to changes, we would be far ahead. Many Nepalis who used to say Nepal is finished, it's too corrupt, there is no security, are now contributing to Nepal's development. You don't need a whole lot of money to do it, your heart has to be in the right place, and you have to invest where it makes a big difference.

At meetings of overseas Nepalis, there used to be a debate about whether we should speak in Nepali or English. I always pushed for Nepali: it is our link language. My mother tongue is Maithili, but without Nepali I can't speak to my compatriots. You may be able to explain Nepali culture to a foreigner in English, but unless you speak your language you won't understand your culture. The Nepali language is the window to Nepali culture.

I don't think any ethnic group will be better off by fragmenting Nepal. Ethnic groups all have their own unique culture and heritage and these should be preserved but not at the cost of a prosperous, united Nepal.

Upendra Mahato is Chairman of the NRN International Coordination Committee. This is a translated excerpt from an opinion published in Himal Khabarpatrika, 14-28 April.

1. Babu Ram Lamasal
Great !!!!!!!!! Hats off...........

2. Chandra Devkota
A true Nepali and a true hero for Nepal. Long live Mr. Mahato and his desire to develop our country. He is an inspiration for everyone. Reading through this artcile reminds me of a nobel called ROOTS by Alex Haley. You belong where your roots are not where your physical presence is. Man Ta Akhir Nepali Nai Ho

3. AM
Completely agree with the note. specially with the line, "You don't need oil, gas or minerals to be developed. If we were as aggressive about development as we are about politics"

Let's hope for the same passion in development as we have in politics.

4. Sunita Tiwari
Very true. Just one suggestion: Don't join politics. You can contribute a great deal to Nepal without being a Kaangresi or Emaale.

5. jivanrai
He is a good man, a good patriot. 


6. Rajeev Rauniyar
And the way you are treated will depend on your ancestry, on where your family originally came from

I don't agree to above. At least my decades of experience in USA never makes me feel that my fellow Americans treat me differently because I am a Nepali. I think it happens in Russia, no?

7. subrath


Mr. UPENDRA MAHATO seems to be a good man with heart and intention. Blessed be your journey :)

8. hange

Mr. Mahato's piece is a good one and his intentions are fantastic.  Moreover, he has more than just good intentions: he's put his money where his mouth is and is investing in Nepal 

Having said that, I do have one area of slight disagreement.  According to Mr. Mahato, ". . . the Nepal tag comes with a slight stain."  Why?  For all the problems we have in our nation, I should and do hold my head high.  We have many achievements, a wonderful culture, beautiful nation, and limitless potential for the future.  While other nations have floundered, we've gone to the brink and back- holding elections and ending a civil war without American boots on the ground.  Many countries, including the larger ones to our north and south have their own numerous problems, as does the U.S. for that matter.  While their citizens are also cognizant of their problems, they do not hesitate to point out the relative strengths of their respective nations.

Mr. Mahato, I wish you all the best in your endeavours to make our nation a bright and prosperous one.  But, in the meantime, you and your children should not hesitate to hold your heads high right now. 

9. Manoj Aryal
Hats off Mr. Mahato..!! wish you success in your venture

10. Dr. manohar budhathoki
Mr Rajeev Rauniyar,I have lived in Europe, India and the Gulf for more than a decade now and i could not disagree with you more.Some good American people may not discriminate against you being a Nepali but in your heart of hearts, you yourself know where you are from and whether you have done your bit to help people back home.We can all contribute in ways big and small to make a difference, can't we?
Mr Upendra Mahato, i know you realise being rich just means being able to help more.How much does a man need, Anyway? Haina ta? Also my salutations for your comments on we all being Nepalis first, Jana jatis, Bhasa Bhasis afterwards.Nepal needs more like you.keep up the good work.

11. Ram lal
Nice article. But let's talk details. How much have you invested in Nepal so far? Where have you invested? How many jobs have you created? Unless you or someone else makes this information public, you talking about your investment in Nepal is a clever way to get free publicity for yourself. 

12. S Shrestha

Upendrajee, Good thought and good work which is inspirational for us. I agree with you that any Nepali can serve the country and contribute to its prosperity without being physically present in Nepal. All we need is heart, mind and commitments. 

13. AJ
You are such a great countryman, Mr. Mahato! Bravo!! I have always admired you, now I admire you much better....

14. R RAI

Thank you very much Dr Mahato.You were not born among elites of Nepal, but surely you have left many elites and their children behind in loving and helping Nepal.

I find your message very positive as well.All the best.

15. sshakya

If someone has such a huge fortune (millions of dollar) in "speed of light" (10 to 15 years in those golden days of Russia), Why should he care about "his sufferred mass" who have been negleted, marginalized, and derespected as "dhoti", and "marsya".

Why should Sanjay Jha (CEO Motorola, who made 100 million dollar only in year 2008) be bothered if somebody says he is "Bihari" ???

Money is power that gives self-respect to the one who has it, no matter he was born as "Damai" or "Madhise". But, the Mass that Mr. Mahato, an accidental outlier, belongs to is looking for a self-respect by virtue of a "political inclusiveness" of the State, not in terms of Money.

In the Sine wave of the capitalism, one day when his financial empire collapses in the liquidation (AIG, Lehman Brother etc.), only when Mr. Mahato will understand the century of suffering and aspiration of his mass.

Being and feeling Neplali  is very marvelous and patriotic idea, but it has to be looked in respect to context or in relatavity- as being  NRNs or as being negleted contrymen.

16. Lahure

We all appreciate the efforts of NRN and the rest in investing in Nepal to create more jobs so that people do not have to travel overseas to search for menial work. The question still remains. Have the leaders and bureaucrats of the country done enough to make environment of the nation more conducive for investors. The answer, unfortunately, is "n". The ones who have invested millions are planning to quit because of the horrific and dysmal infrastructure like shortage of water, electricity and lack of security, and pervasive corruption in high places.

In short the initiative to develop must come from within.


17. AMIT giri

ppl likfe him makes us feel more proud. if politician of our country start to think like him than we r sure nepal can develop in less than 10 year.

long live mahato

18. Anish Dixit
 very candid...i like your views Mr. Mahato...

19. Layman
Article is great, but I stuck at the line" you can change your citizenship but you can't change who you are."
And I do not know what is Nepali cultures, and talking about this serious issue needs great deal.

I have a question to my Mr. Mahato " What  is really means Neapli Culture?"with regarding the culture, most of the Nepali ( Khasa ) speaking people follow or any other culture, so for me I am first a Newar and later I am Nepali.
It does not mean that I do not respect other Nepali cultures, and proudly say that Nepal has many different language and  cultures.

20. suman
# 19 Layman should be named ignorant man.  Take off your communal Newa Chasma while reading Mahato's article.  Then, you will understand what he is trying to say.  An Indian person identifies himself/herself as Indian first, and then Gujarati or Punjabi. A Chinese does the same.  An American is an American and then Irish ..  Sad indeed! No wonder nepal is heading towards civil war...

21. Pawan
We need to be proud of our country and at least make an Action Plan to try to do something for the goodness of the nation. Somebody gotta start somewhere. I feel statement by Mahato is a good start.

Let there be more fellas following him.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)