Imaginary New Year musings by a Nepali citizen

Another year has passed and a new one has begun. By New Year I meant the Gregorian one – as some of your may be aware, our new year, i.e. Bikram Sambat 2070, will begin only in mid-April.

But since most across the world are celebrating and wishing for good things in the coming 12 months, I too would like to make some wishes for myself, my fellow countrymen and my country Nepal.

The past years haven’t been kind for the nation. We are yet to get the new constitution that promises to usher in a New Nepal full of opportunities, development and equality.

Our hopes were dashed by politicians when the Constituent Assembly got dissolved in May. And judging by the ongoing battle for power among parties it seems unlikely that we will have elections soon – meaning more delay in drafting the constitution.

Nepal is still one of the least developed nations and unless there’s some sort of political stability and a clear vision for the next few decades there’s no prospect of that tag getting removed soon.

As we experience another winter of daily power outages, I hope hundreds of hours wasted due to non-utilisation of the country’s immense hydro-power potential will become a thing of the past, if not this year than at least in the next four-five years.

Maybe that’s too big a wish. Judging by the way power projects under construction are being targeted by some in the name of the country’s sovereignty I won’t be surprised if the next generation of Nepalis too experience cold and dark winters.

Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to have uninterrupted power supply even for a day.

Another thing that’s been worrying me for some time now is the rise in incidents of violence against women.

Already battling discrimination in a patriarchal society, they are now being subjected to physical and emotional battering by those known to them and even those who are meant to protect them from such abuse.

Hopefully the laws will be made more stringent and implemented properly. But more importantly societal attitudes and norms that make half the population feel unwanted should change.

I was surprised to read a news report recently that over half a million Nepalis went abroad in search of jobs last year. Lack of opportunities at home would force a similar number to leave their homes this year too.

Remittance sent by them is very important as it accounts for nearly one fourth of the country’s GDP, but I wish enough jobs are created within Nepal so that young boys and girls don’t have to waste their productive years in foreign lands and sometimes return battered or in coffins.

The list of wishes can go on but if there’s one thing that I fervently wish for in the New Year is for prices to come down. Judging by the high-rise apartments and SUVs flooding streets in Kathmandu one might make the mistake of assuming that inflation doesn’t matter.

But for most Nepalis the sharp rise in prices of essential items has made it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, educate children or get proper healthcare in case of emergencies.

It would be really nice to see some of these wishes get fulfilled in the coming months. If that happens we will be able to welcome 2014 on a more positive note than the way we bid goodbye to 2012.

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