Opinion: Brain Gain for Nepal?

The gen-next is in a precarious position
Photo [HERE

Having stayed away from home for nearly a decade and lived in countries where work-a-holism and alcoholism is the norm and not exception, where systems are flawed yet surprisingly functional, where daily living maintenance is exponentially and exceptionally easier, I can't help but compare the difference in standards that Nepal and these countries have. I really can't help it. I don't want to, but it's so, so eye popping-ly apparent that the elephant in the room can hardly be disguised into a gazelle. 

That's why when people discuss the ever dreaded question having to back to the country of origin, a worrying storm of doubt rushes through the conscious backdoor. Do we really have to discuss this right now? Can't we wait for a later time? Can't we simply live in the present moment like how all those half naked, balls-showing, meditation gurus teach us? I wish we could. In fact, I wish we never have had to talk about this in any shape or form. 

Unfortunately, at least for me, it's time. It's time to think. It's time to talk. The question now is, why all that doubt in the very first place. Especially for me. 

I am, without sounding like a dick, much better off than my fellow countrymen. I don't know why I am so incredibly fortunate to have been born into a family that's doing extremely well. I don't know why I was able to get the very best education that Nepal had to offer. I don't even know why I had the chance to do what I am doing right at this very moment. If you happen to stream through the pages of Stories of Nepal [HERE], you will know that other Nepalese aren't so lucky.  While they struggle to keep food on the table, I am busy snorting and gulping very expensive crafty brews city to city, halfway across the world. 

I am not complaining. 

My point here is, on paper, I should feel very comfortable to return back because there's a strong base in place. I should feel at home... at home. I should feel excited. So this nagging, insecure background noise of feeling pressured, cajoled, almost punished for apparent return is something that needs a bit of exploration and thought. 

"This nagging, insecure background noise of feeling pressured, cajoled, ALMOST punished for apparent return is something that needs a bit of exploration and thought"

Interestingly, I am not the only one that thinks that way. The problem of not just labor export, but of young, educated youths leaving the country to study then never returning back is so apparent, so bad, that the Government of Nepal literally has had to establish a "Brain Gain Center" to find ways to appeal to the community at large. My understanding is that the government is currently undertaking a genuine step to create a database of individuals living, studying and working in various capacities outside the country and leverage that to do something useful back home. 

Let's discuss that for a moment shall we?

The Stop Gap Solution

My opinion, and this just my opinion, is that the government is simply missing the point here. While everyone back is racking their brains to find ways to bring people back home, they are placing a blind eye on a blindingly obvious solution. It's not about looking outward and trying to convince Nepalese that Nepal needs them, it's actually about looking inward. It's about building the infrastructure needed to attract people back home.

And let me tell you, the bar is PRETTY low. I am talking about bare basics here. Basics that support life. I am not talking about Nepal having to build luxuries. I just meant these support for people:

Basics of the basic:

1) Proper supply of water
2) Stable electricity
3) Point A to B logistics

And would be nice to have: 

4) Reliable postal service
5) Breathable air
6) Waste Management

Why? because who wants to really live in a country where 80% of time is being spent on trying to create a base for the remaining 20% of the work to be done. It's reversed here. I spend 20% of my time on day to day maintenance and 80% on work that I need and want to do. Extrapolating that linearly in macro, a sample project that takes a year here will take five in Nepal. Five, without considering that I could go through a mental meltdown by then.  

The Real Issue

I still strongly believe the government has more than enough resources and brains to reverse the situation. Case in point, Nepal Electricity Authority's apparent god-like turn around by proper management from top-down. How is it even remotely possible that in a nation's capital can go from 16 hours of power cut to practically zero in a span of a year or two? The production never increased tandem with the load. Mr. Ghising wasn't being modest when he said it was simple load distribution management and nothing else. 

"Mr. Ghising wasn't being modest when he said it was simple load distribution management and nothing else"

A reverse case can be looked at our national carrier. The spectacular fall from grace of Nepal Airlines, previously known as Royal Nepal Airlines, as one of the country's biggest employer to reaching a point of bankruptcy in a span of few decades is simply saddening to see. The fact that the ailing airlines generates most of its revenue from ground services at the Tribhuvan International Airport says a lot about their current business model. 

What makes this even worse is that private airline companies, in the meantime, are expanding and churning out flights internationally. This makes no sense to me at all. How can private companies strive in the same market while the Nepal's flagship carrier operates in loses? 


That's a simple way of putting all the problems but it has to be that simple. Every public (or partnered) sector organization that's trying to provide the basics to it's citizens; whether that's water, transport or post cannot provide the bare minimum amount of service that allows people to do their job. People have to wait for the water supply to supply water twice a week. People have to cram into a defunct, non functional, completely not-on-time, unscheduled privately run transport system to get them to places and oh, while also having to go all the way to the post office just to get that parcel because the office refuses to deliver it to them. All this by breathing in dusts from cow dung, tires and millions of other suspended particles in air because no body gives a shit about the waste that's thrown around. That happened ten years ago and it's still happening now.

Of course, people don't want to go back. 

All Is Not Lost

What I really intend on drilling home the point is that Nepalese are already hacking their ways into the system to live and work in Nepal. Imagine what would happen if the basics are provided. What would happen if the right critical environment is set for these enterprising brains. It's boundless. It's limitless. It's beyond anything anyone could possibly dream of.

"Imagine what would happen if the basics are provided"

But that's not just it. This will generate genuine interest and enthusiasm from Nepalese expats, students and people abroad to seek opportunities in Nepal. Sure, making a database of experts could support policy building and planning. Sure, we might be able to gain certain knowledge but if the foundations of the country is weak -the foundation through the same basics for life- it's pointless because application will only be as strong as the base.

Back to basics is all that's needed. Nothing more, nothing less. 


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