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Shreeya Shakya

HIKE

A for Awareness

Every morning as I savor a glass of juice to get started for the day ahead tuning into the many radio stations, it infuriates me early in the morning whenever I hear some patriotic song about building the ‘New Nepal’ and people talking about justice and peace who still keep their guns at close distance and those talking about equal opportunities and fairness when they are still the ones who are misusing what is bestowed on them.

Everybody knows the talk of the town. The rather quixotic ‘new’ Nepal, the elections in suspended animation, the long queues everywhere and for everything and the massive exodus! The people’s revolution had promised a bright future for Nepal and today as it is evident, we are still in square one. Almost of all of us blame the politicians and policy makers for lagging utterly in making amendments and progress. For me, that is half the truth. It is without a doubt true that the people in ranks are not doing justice to the assigned responsibilities. We, the general public, are always cornered just because those people have failed to deliver and all we are left with is the feeling of despair and frustration. But we also need to look to the left and to the right and judge whether we are ready to embrace the new Nepal or more aptly are we ready to build the ‘new’ Nepal hand in hand with the government? I say NO. Of the so many things that haven’t changed after the revolution, our attitude is one of them. This is one of the reasons why it infuriates me whenever I hear patriotic songs every morning emphasizing on the elusive ‘new’ Nepal.

Singing songs is not enough, debating the national anthem in blogs is not enough and criticizing the government blithely avoiding our immediate responsibilities is not correct. What is seriously lacking in Nepal is awareness among the general public. As long as we have educated people crossing the road right under the overhead bridges, new Nepal is not possible. As long as we have educated people eating ‘chatpates’ , ‘pani puris’ along the road side right in front of heaps of garbage and as long as we have educated people walking on the road leaving pavements empty, new Nepal is not possible.

Dreaming of an immediate new Nepal where literacy rate is barely 50% is something of a utopian dream. Awareness comes from education and sense of responsibility and we can only hope that, in years or probably decades to come when our literacy rate improves, a true new Nepal takes shape. To build up a new Nepal, we now should teach our kids that ‘A is for Awareness’ and not ‘A is for Apple’. It’s been way too long ‘A’ has been for ‘Apple’ and those educated people who are acting ignorant are the ones who mugged up Apple and thought ‘A’ could be nothing except for ‘Apple’. Before building the ‘new’ Nepal, we should first build ourselves. Before jumping into action and running into the streets (something we have cultivated in leaps and bounds after the revolution), we should first be aware of what should be done and what is right. Then only can we be hopeful of building ‘our new’ Nepal and not just a ‘new’ Nepal.

Another factor which is crippling our nation is the fact that of the so many educated people from whom we can expect some sense of awareness are either leaving the country or hate it the core. But I have sat with some people who want to stay here and explore possibilities and provide opportunities. I have also shared the same space with hundreds of youth who stood up with respect and love for the country and sang along the song ‘Jungi Nishan Hamro‘ in chorus. I have seen touch of awareness among these people and am hopeful it spreads wide. It’ll take time for it to grow and till then we just have to be patient. May be when I’m 30 or 40, I shall get to see ‘A for Awareness’ etched in everybody’s mind and next thing then looming in the horizon would be ‘A for Action’.

Published in Sunday edition of The Kathmandu Post dated 2 Sept 2007.