From the Nepali Times Editorials

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While I am traveling in Nepal, I have been browsing Nepali online news, including the Nepali Times. Recently I had been scanning the editorial pieces of the Nepali Times, and found the following three interesting. I thought I would to make archival notes on them.

On Development = Destruction

On a national scale, the government is still hell-bent on logging a huge tract of primary forest to build an airport at Nijgad even as international airlines shun Pokhara and Bhairawa. Nearer Kathmandu, the government is getting an ADB loan to build a Rs25 billion dam in Shivapuri National Park to — wait for this — flush the Bagmati. Nepalis yet unborn are already in debt.

Not building is also development. We should know where or what not to build. But kickback-driven maldevelopment is destroying Nepal as megalomania and kleptomania go hand-in-hand. Much of Nepal is urbanising rapidly, often without proper planning or resources, pouring concrete over what used to be fertile farms.

The Nepal Tarai is turning into one long east-west metropolis. Our cities are uninhabitable because of the lack of open spaces, garbage and toxic air. Federalism was supposed to devolve political decision-making so there would be fairer grassroots development.

On Inconvenient truths

Kickbacks and payoffs have become such a part of life in this country that the English word ‘setting’ has entered the Nepali lexicon to describe collusion between unscrupulous businesses, bureaucrats and politicians. 

It is when someone somewhere has not been paid off by a recruiting agency that Nepali migrant workers are stopped at the airport, and it only makes it to the headlines if hundreds are involved. Individual inconveniences for legitimate travellers that happen every day never make it to the news.

A record 800,000 Nepalis left the country to work abroad in fiscal year 2022-23 that ended on Monday. And that was just the total for those that obtained mandatory labour permits from the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), and did not include those who went to India, or left on student visas for Australia, Canada or Japan.

on crime and/or punishment

The fake Bhutan refugee scandal and the organised crime behind the Lalita Niwas real estate scam have shown that Nepal’s media, investigation agencies, law enforcement and court system are all playing their check and balance roles.

However, there is a whiff of political vendetta in some of the arrests, and concerns that even bigger fish are being let off the hook. There is also apprehension that loopholes in existing laws will be used for the guilty to get away, and some of the innocent who were duped by middlemen will be made scapegoats. 

The above quotes taken from a few of the randomly selected editorial opinions from one news outlet. There are many similar and more critical opinion pieces written by journalists, a sign of the vibrant free and open press in Nepal.

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