Nepal’s Development: Progress in the nooks and crannies

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In my class, my professor asked – “Do you think Nepal has developed?”. Nepal plans to graduate from Least Developed Country category soon so; the answer seemed a no brainer. But he exclaimed, it really hasn’t at least not in the nooks and crannies. Even this generation is still fighting for the same issues his parents or grandparents did. We still want roads assess, there still aren’t medical facilities in the rural areas so how do we call it development?

True to his words I recall one of my expeditions back in 2016. We had to conduct a preliminary study of Mahakali river near Rupaligad located in Dadeldhura district for Pancheshwar High Dam. We had to make our way through Banbasa Bridge at the Nepal-India border because the road connecting through Nepal’s side was not functional at that time. We had arrived at Champawat on the second day of our trip from Kathmandu. It was a beautiful hill town and I slept well cramming in two days’ worth of sleep.

On the third day, we finally reached Rupaligad. That day was the most intense descent that I have made till date. We descended around 900 m within a 3-hour span and used tuin to cross Mahakali and finally hiked around 1 hour more to get to Rupali gad. Tuins are rope and pulley river crossing system used in places where there aren’t any bridges.

I had to travel through India to get to my own country. And children were even seen to cross the mighty Mahakali using tyre tubes. And the contrast could not be starker. While both places were beautiful in their own right, there stood Chapawat with all kinds of facilities and at Rupaligad there weren’t even roads. Just to cross the river we had to use tuin. There were no toilets in the village we resided. The locals were barely educated.

The field work was during Tihar celebration and a lot of fire crackers were used to celebrate the event. Unfortunately, one of the fire crackers fell on the shopkeeper’s face and he couldn’t see a thing. He needed urgent medical care and he was taken to Chapawat, India not in a medical facility in Nepal. Just imagine, the stress having to hike about 1 hour to get to the tuin, then use the tuin to cross the river and then take an uphill hike crossing 900 m and then hop on a vehicle with a ride of about 4 hours to get medical facility.

I still look back to that field work having had a lot of adventure. Cooking by the river side, hiking up and down steep terrain, using a tuin for the first time but the perspective has changed. My own blog immediately after the trip paints a different scenario.

And to add a bit on Nepal’s reservation system, it may have its flaws but if it means providing people in these communities having a fighting chance to succeed in life then more power to it. It’s a recognition of people with differing backgrounds to make it to a position for making difference in their community. It’s important to know that we all don’t have a same start in our life. My good friend Aashish Mishra makes an excellent point on the reservation system stating it’s not about uplifting the poor but ending the monopoly present in the state’s structures.

Anu Rai

I am an aspiring environmental researcher.

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