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Rajendra Keshari Pandey

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MONEY AWAY, MUSCLES AWAY, and… BRAIN AWAY

To my simple understanding money comes from several basic endeavours. Having an enterprising brain, hard work, quality products (goods and services), an ability to deliver the goods and services on time and above all, possession of perseverance. These qualities are the key elements to creating wealth. “Nepal is a poor country” has been the catchword and a general rhetoric for many decades. As if God, when willing the birth of this country was in dire poverty but it should not be the case, it was not, and it is not. Having many amenities, qualities and a capacity to prosper, this country still became poor due to selfish leaders having vested interest and no vision. The birth of any nation begins with its soil, its people and their toil.  A country is initially born neither rich nor poor. A Nation then emerges with the help of its people and their activities. Its prosperity depends on the right vision, right leadership and right implementation.  Whether to take the nation towards prosperity or towards deprivation is in the will of a dedicated leader. Nepal is rich in many vistas and the proof of our richness is clearly visible in our surroundings. People from around the world come here to see the masterpieces: The arts and architecture of Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kantipur (Kathmandu), the serenity of Pokhara, and our jungles and wildlife are few immediate examples. These are our assets, this is our richness, but they are not utilised.

Proper utilisation of our natural resources and human resources can make a big difference in making money. But the scenario at present looks different. Our Brain, Money, and Muscle (work forces) are going abroad daily like a caravan. Even the government is encouraging our capable hands to work for someone else for a certain interest, so what remains here? This is a temporary cure just to manipulate the petty political maths. The state of no brain, no money and fewer workers is certainly going to create a big vacuum and affect the system here in the long-term. We are good at creating problems and when we try to solve them we invent other kinds of problems. This is how we have been managing our country for a long time, in total haphazardness.  Responsibility, accountability and honesty are lacking somewhere.

We talk about development without considering the simple facts and factors above. When our manpower has gone from this country and when we need manpower, can we hire American, British, Canadian, French, German or Japanese labour forces to fill-up the vacuum? No way. One can of course hire foreigners if one has the capability to pay them as per their standards of salary. But, do we have it in us? No, it does not work like this at present as they have a different economy. May be someday we will be able to hire foreigners as our required manpower, but that day is still to come.

I am just speculating an interesting fact that Japan is facing an acute space problem. If Japanese senior citizens can be settled in our open spaces then one kind of income generating activities is possible. It can create employment for many of us and so the money circulates. But the complicated visa application process is restricting such opportunities. We do and talk very interesting things here, in a way we want to encourage visitors or business, and simultaneously we discourage them. We have made the different types of visa application so complicated and discouraging that people have to face many challenges to stay in Nepal.

U. S. Government tourist visas or visitor visas are generally issued up to a period of three months to ten years. Once the tourist is in the U.S. an added extension of a 6-month time period can be obtained upon approval by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Indian Tourist Visas can be obtained for a period of six months, one year and 10 years. Students, businessmen, journalists and others who want to visit India for professional purposes can obtain visas of the appropriate type. But here we provide Tourist Visas for a maximum period of only 150 days in a year i.e. less than 5 months in a year? And a student visa fee is higher than tourist visa fee. This does not tally. This is a paradox here in Nepal. Encourage and discourage simultaneously.

A regular scene one can see here are numerous hoarding boards on the road and same sorts of Ad one can see in our daily papers which read: Study abroad, work abroad, go abroad. All abroad!  If all and everything goes abroad then what remains here? I am surprised to see the serpentine lines in many embassies and visa sections of different countries, where our people are paying huge amount of money to leave this country. If this tendency goes on like this for some more years then a crisis is ahead for sure. With this unstable situation money (foreign investment) is not coming here easily as perceived by Foreign Investment Division. Investors would like to feel the policy is stable; they also like to know their money is safe. If all the work force is going somewhere else, then the children and senior citizens alone cannot do our daily needs at home. (Budha, Budhi ra Bachha bata). A country, which depends mostly on agriculture, cannot function without able hands.

The most vital and damaging thing happening here is a Brain Drain. All our most talented resources are selected to work for someone else. The reason is simple. We cannot currently provide them with the right working atmosphere and reasonable salary to support their family. That is the prime reason why they leave this country everyday. People always crave good opportunities and a better working atmosphere. This is human nature and is correct in many respects, but it is not the remedy. We must try to check this MONEY AWAY, MUSCLES AWAY, and especially BRAIN AWAY exodus before the sun sets. We need people to make hay while the sun still shines on our Motherland otherwise she will have no family left soon.