Why ‘Made in Nepal’?

-By Sundip Gurung-

An elderly kills himself tired of his chronic illness, a mother commits suicide after killing her two babies due to famine, and a family waits for their son’s coffin from Arab—what is common here? “Death” you may see, but it is the existing situation of our country that has brought incessant tragedies as these among several.

In a short duration of time, the country has been through a precarious political turmoil affecting various strata of functioning bodies, and with the extension of political transition, the future of the country seems ambivalent and unhinged. Unquestionably a country’s progress depends profoundly on a delicate relationship between political situation and economy. Experts believe, to depend heavily on foreign- remittance and custom-tax is no wise approach to build a nation strong, paradoxically, our economy is chiefly based on these two, and aids allocated by international organizations.

Whose obligation is it anyways?

Most of us find sheer pleasure to portray politicians and our neighbors, mostly the south block as sole protagonists for whatever is happening in our land. Perhaps partially true, the politicians have not been accountable, and the south has been less charismatic about their attitude towards us, but we are missing the larger picture of the overall circumstances. The fact which needs to be accepted is, the politicians are merely our own echoes and their acts are not less than our own. We denounce south block, we condemn their policies towards us, we detest big countries bullying us, yet we never stop watching their movies, listening to their songs, consuming imported products and flashing our branded apparels. A country cannot simply progress with the slogan of nationalism; rather a country prospers with patriots who strive for a true growth through their deeds. No country in the world has gained the status of a “developed-world” through international funds; a beggar might be able to relieve his hunger by begging, but can seldom be rich unless and until he starts to use his muscles. Hence, it is also how citizens honor their sentiments towards love of the country through action determines the future.

Everything is connected
In average, everyday five dead bodies of migrant workers arrive at the international airport. Despite this saddening fact, fifteen hundred youths go abroad every day. One third of the school-going children drop out of schools every year, hundreds of girls are trafficked outside Nepal, thousand migrate to bigger cities ever year…and the list goes on. Everything is connected—these are linked to a vicious circle of one root problem; that is the economic status of our country. Had our country been economically strong, we can presume, no one would have opted to leave their family behind and chase their elusive dream of prosperity abroad, no child would have stayed home helping their parents in the fields instead of going to school, no brokers would have lured the girls for a good job and sell them in Mumbai’s brothel, and no one would have left their beloved home town. Actually, our country is not poor, we are simply economically weak. It is not just a twist of words; poor/ poverty should have a new definition – “Poverty” should be solitary used when there is no prospect of economic opportunities, such as in Sahara desert where less-thing could be done. We are simply “economically not-strong” and we need to explore our possibilities.

It’s a jungle out there
Despite of several opportunities, we are confined to limited options such as agriculture, travel-tourism, and information technology, the latest. Though started with industries in consumer products, it is less favored compared to imported ones. The data shows a huge trade-deficit ever increasing throughout. Trade-deficit is a condition when import of a country is more than export, leading to outflow of a country’s cash. . Most of the products imported are consumer products such as gold, electronic products, textile and clothing, and beauty products. Looking at this fact, it is us as consumers who are partly responsible for de-stabilizing country’s economic status.

We are globalized—the market-competition is tough! When asked people about their preference of foreign brands, their reply is simple; “they claim foreign products to be good in quality and available in various option depending on the price”. Moderately true, but it is the biggest tragedy to believe so, when in fact we have award winning products produced just next door. It is the ignorance of the consumers that is generating an existent divergence. We must spread the words on benefits of using local products.

Proudly Made in Nepal
Gone are the times when they used to claim Nepal couldn’t even afford to manufacture a needle. Spectrums of products are being produced locally. Government of Nepal has also been very supportive by implementing programs such as small cottage industries, and one village-one product campaigns.

Using local products means creating jobs locally which solves the problem of unemployment and migration, empowering people/nation thereby eliminating the ferocious loop of “poverty”, saving country’s wealth thus decreasing trade-deficit and other predicament that comes along with economic status of a nation. Evidently consumers care about quality and price, nevertheless, people are getting concerned about factors such as fair-trade, environmental impact, etc, and soon they will be conscious on benefits of using local products.

Nepal can only prosper with its will to flourish. It can move forward if and only if people, politics and power-play hit the right chord together. Forget the politicians for now, let’s talk about us. The “ball” is back to us- it is in our hand as a “purchaser”, the capacity to change the game. The hope is rising; it is time to express the love of our country through consuming locally manufactured products.

Time is running; we are more than fifty years behind the developed world. A radical action is needed before it is too late. We must be prepared to compromise and sacrifice a bit in the name of our country.

This conjuncture may not solve every bit of crisis, but we can be hopeful for things to follow a right track.

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