Outrage in Iraq
The Himalayan Times 6 Sept 2004
The twelve Nepalese murdered in Iraq are our modern day heroes. They
went to Baghdad to work and send money home to their families. It is this
money that keeps the Nepalese economy afloat.
We can only salute their bravery.
They knew it was risky. They knew that they were going to a dangerous
place, and that there was always a chance that they might not come back to
their loved ones. Still they went. It is the courage of people like these
twelve that sustains Nepal in these extraordinarily difficult times.
Let us remember that the economy is surviving because of remittances. The
US$ 100 million which the 8,00,000 Nepalese working in 19 countries send
to Nepal allows us to buy our necessities – fuel for our vehicles;
liquefied cooking gas for our homes; medicines for those who are sick; and
cars, buses & trucks to provide us with transportation.
Take away this inflow of money and the economy would be pushed into the
stone age. We should take this opportunity to express our gratitude for
these heroic men and women who go to foreign lands. In trying to improve
their and their families' lives, they improve the lives of all of us who
stay on in Nepal.
The nation rightfully mourns the tragedy at Baghdad. Our hearts and
prayers go out to the families who have lost their loved ones. No one can
forget the horror evoked by the images on the internet, TV, and
Who can but not grieve with Ramesh Khadka's mother who fainted when she
heard of her son's death in Iraq, or, cry with Prakash Adhikari the father
of one of the twelve hostages who collapsed on hearing the news of his
son's murder. However, this grief must translate into something more.
It is indeed time to be with and comfort the families of those who paid
the ultimate price. It is time to assure them that their worldly needs
will be taken care of by a grateful nation. But more than that it is time
to unitedly assure the families in shock that their sacrifice will not be
How can we do that?
It won't be by destroying the property of manpower agencies. They merely
fulfill the yearning of Nepal's young striving for a better life for
themselves and their families.
It won't be by burning and destroying property of muslim businessmen in
Kathmandu. They are as much a part of Nepal as anyone else is, and, they
are as much outraged by the atrocity in Iraq as the most patriotic of us
It won't be by venting anger against foreign companies, of whatever
nationality they might be, for most of the world is united in its
condemnation of what has happened.
We can honour those who have fallen by forging a new economic agenda for
Nepal. This must be an agenda which takes Nepal on the path to prosperity.
An agenda which guarantees an opportunity for every Nepali to progress, to
earn a decent living, so that when citizens of this great nation go abroad
they do so by choice and not because of necessity.
How long can we have the best, the brightest, the most hardworking, the
ones with the most initiative, the bravest and the most daring amongst us
leave this country and work for the betterment of other nations. Let us
give them the opportunity right over here; in Nepal. Our young deserve
The path to growth, wealth and prosperity lies in embracing economic
freedom. It is only free market policies which can take Nepal away from
the brink of being labeled a failed state to a one where every Nepali is
proud of his country’s economic might. For this we need to clear the
obstacles created by the heavy hand of a visionless bureaucracy.
Let the people be free of extortionate taxation, controls on movement of
foreign exchange, tyranny of import licensing and of petty customs
officials who block free movement of goods, and corrupt government
officials. Then and only then will the young of this land not have to seek
opportunity elsewhere. They will find it right over here in their own
(The writer an economist and a proponent of free markets contributes to
leading international dailies. Contact e-mail: email@example.com)
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