Looking out

  • With the end of transition, Nepal needs to be able to assert its position on the global stage
- Sujeev Shakya

Sep 26, 2017-

It is the last week of September and as Nepal prepares for month long festivities, New York is abuzz with heads of governments from around the world who are converging in the annual guthi to discuss how to make the world a better place. This is a week where global leaders jostle with each other and network to deepen their ties. It is the only legitimate foreign trip a leader gets that is not criticised by the media. With social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter becoming a key to how one communicates with people, it becomes interesting to see what is coming up on the Twitter feeds and Facebook pages of leaders. 

Global mindset

It was very interesting to see the Twitter feed and Facebook page of the Bhutanese prime minister Tshering Tobgay. The Bhutanese PM’s social media accounts are filled with pictures of PM Tobgay with Charlie Rose of CBS This Morning, former US president Bill Clinton, Apple CEO Tim Cook, CEO of Air Asia Tony Fernandes, and others at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum. I also looked at whom the Nepal Prime Minister was meeting. The Twitter feeds put him in meetings with 

the President of Estonia; maybe now someone from Nepal will become Honorary Consul General of that country. While the Bhutan PM tweeted about his presence at the function hosted by the Nepali Consulate and his bilateral meeting with the Nepali PM, Deuba’s official social media accounts were absent of similar accounts. 

Nepal’s isolation from the world during the decade long transition has made us very insulated and busy with little things around our own circle of influence. Other than in a few select instances, I do not recall a single feed on social media of Nepalis talking on global stages and platforms. Instead, I see people who used to traverse global events now happy to be heavily garlanded and caked in vermillion powder at Nepali events both at home and abroad. Courtesy of Nepali keyboards, now people do not even have to learn English to belch out messages of congratulations and condolence. 

It has been years since we last saw Nepali leaders taking the global centre stage, or since they were spotted at events like the World Economic Forum or the Bloomberg Global Business Forum. I cannot see any videos on YouTube of a Nepali leader who has put the country on the global map. Tshering Tobgay’s Ted talk has now received 2 million views. He represents a country whose population is just 800,000. That means his Ted talk has two and a half times more views than there are people 

in his country. If Tobgay can do it for Bhutan, we deserve leaders who can garner 70 million views on YouTube with their Ted talks. When our leaders travel, they are happy to be received in that country by sycophants and to address hour long gatherings. I keep wondering about the type of person who resides in the 

US and has the time to spend four hours at an event and take four days off to hang out with political leaders. Such a person must be extremely rich or have nothing better to do. Even meetings of the Non Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) just attracts people who have been paid to travel or people who could not fulfil their political ambitions in Nepal and had to find another country to use the Nepalis there as a platform. 

Recalibration required

An issue that requires serious recalibration on our part is how Nepal can reach out to the world and how Nepalis can learn to be part of the global centre stage. The key issue to tackle is the mediocrity that we have become so accepting of. We take this acceptance of mediocrity with us to the places we travel to and establish the perception of Nepalis being people who just accept mediocrity. I was looking at a picture of a diplomat being presented a farewell gift by the Vice President of Nepal. When I saw the souvenir being presented, I was ashamed. How can a country that has world class art and artists present such awful pieces as gifts? 

We need to change many ways of our life in Nepal for our youth to learn what the best way of doing things is. Fighting over who will be the Chief Guest and Guest of Honour, the sequence of giving long, unprepared, boring speeches, jostling and fighting to sit in the front line, turning up shabbily dressed, or not knowing how to carry oneself should be things of the past. It is now time we invested in managing one’s image and 

learnt how to project oneself digitally. We can learn from the Bhutanese prime minister. At the Mountain Echoes festival in Thimpu in August this year, he decided to team up with a 16 year old student to do a poetry skit on stage rather than giving a speech, making everyone wonder how he memorised so many lines! We need to invest in knowledge and acquire knowledge to get to the global centre stage. Development agencies and a host of INGOs and NGOs in Nepal have turned training, learning and personal development into something one is paid to attend, rather than something one invests in for personal enrichment. Perhaps, this could be the starting point on literally starting to invest in one’s future.


Published: 26-09-2017 08:19

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