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Nepal’s bustling development parameter

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Kathmandu, March 17, 2016: During World Economic Forum of 2016 in Davos, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, emphasized the global role of Turkey as a geo-center of Africa, Europe and Asia. Turkey now has been the great strategic point for these 3 continents. But, if I would have been given the chance to speak at Davos, I would have emphasized the global role of Nepal. The 21st century will be entirely concentrated around India and China on diplomacy, innovation, business, connectivity and politics. And, Nepal would be no exception in playing a global role in negotiating diplomacy, solving world crisis and acting as a Business Bridge between these two giant countries as a position of buffer state.

Hold on! This is not a Shah reign Nepal where king’s and his loyal nobles take charge as ‘divine’ power to run overall Nepal for an infinity period. This is post-1990’s Nepal, where around 23 million mobile phones subscribers are re-writing history of Nepal every day. Today’s aphorism is-individual freedom, opinion and the growing purchasing power of Nepalese (added by growing remittance). Nepal has always been isolated in western media and Nepalese leadership and elite has limited contact over global media—making Nepal ‘hidden’ nation in the world. The April 25th, 2015 mega earthquake was ‘grey line’ to judge, how Nepal’s bureaucracy works. But, it worked fantastically well. Nepalese bureaucracy though evolved during 18th century and most of the time in history it has been at the royal courtyard of Shah, even today it holds the balance and patience. Despite such fragile government mechanism, Nepal successfully muddled with suicidal April earthquakes (Hats off!! To our Disaster Response Team, Army & police), likewise 2014 Ebola Outbreak in Western Africa, these countries could have become seriously ‘virtual’ without multilateralism effort of WHO. But, Nepal stands exception to it.

Politically & ideologically, Nepal has been under the suffocation. Which is right? Divine Monarchy, Democrats or leftist in most of the time in history (Now, at current time monarchy does not exist). And in every moment in history, each political ideology has been sold as a unique USP (Unique Selling Proposition) among large section of poor and underrepresented. But, that isn’t the case anymore. Nepal is among the few countries in the world, where transition is being observed very fast. The 10 years Maoist rebel movement (1996-2006) turned in to a competitive parliamentary system (uniquely making Nepal, as a place where communist parties practice competitive parliamentary model).

It is not 1950’s, 1960’s or 1980’s/90’s Nepal, where Nepal’s development was purely patriarchal, few road networks, disturbing poverty. Now, the story is shifting. Only 17% in Nepal is living under 1 USD per day and only 23% is living under extreme poverty which was about 40% in 1990’s. Women and Men’s primary and secondary literacy are now almost equal. Nepal’s road network increased from about 2900 KM in 1989 to around 19,000+ KMs in 2011.

Nepalese women’s access to commercial sanitary pads, even in isolated rural Nepal, evolving from traditional cotton fabrics: this indicates increase in women’s purchasing power (thanks to booming remittance) and changing women’s perceived stereotypes. The new ‘2S’ development realities is growing in rural Nepal, (Shop & Signal) booming of especially women’s shops that accommodates cosmetic & tailoring items even in the most deprived areas of Nepal. The bustling mobile signal making Nepal very close ever before, vibration of new ideas imported from overseas is making to happen ‘money’ to grow new ‘ Kathmandu’ is developing in upper hills.

Connectivity brought media power abundantly than ever before in Nepal. Excellent functioning of democracy requires the competitive and accountable media and Nepal stands to it. The growing media houses in Nepal and comparatively liberal media policy in Nepal—making media in Nepal to grow in a geometrical way. This is not the year back to 40 years ago, when media was only concentrated around Nepalese royals and hadn’t had any interest about commoners. But, the media in Nepal is enabling everyone to be accountable for everyone.

The powerful social forces do not stop here. The percentage of Nepalese women in parliament is now almost 29% which outnumbers Canada, UK and even United States’ female parliamentarians. How Nepalese Diasporas is thriving: one of the solid examples-Jamuna Gurung is now one of the 11 richest women in Australia. More than that, Nepal now improved her position comparing to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Global Hunger Index map.

One of the fascinating trends, that the Nepalese women are taking control of their lives are 50% of women are practicing a contraceptive method which is one of highest in LDC world. Though, being one of the developing worlds, theoretically Nepal’s population should increase but it is declining (2.3 babies per woman) near to replacement levels, which were 4.3 babies per woman in 20 years ago. If happens to reach at replacement level, Nepal will start aging, (Indian fertility rate is 2.5 babies per woman). Nepal‘s mortality rate is now 43 out of 1000 which was 330 in 1960s. The role of Female Community Volunteers (FCVs) in Nepal can’t be unnoticed for effectively delivery health facilities to each household in rural communities of Nepal. So, the grassroots actors are growing and participating avidly in the community activities.

Kathmandu’s new upper middle class are having vacations at Pataya & Europe (thanks to Ace Travels welfare package), Thamel (an epic hub for western tourist in Nepal) is about to change its former hashish status to debate point for bubbles of aspiring young West returnees (she is now preparing to produce the new Mahabir Pun, Ramon Magsaysay award laureate from Nepal). The hotels are now not only for tourists but also act as the ‘boiling pot’ to debate for developmental affairs.

Yes! It is true that still, the things are not done in a way, it should be done. But, this doesn’t mean that we are out of the game. We can’t deny Nepal’s change, rapidly shifting from transition phase, women empowerment level, increasing education level, increasing life expectancy, decreasing poverty. This is changing Nepal’s story. This is flattening globalization and more than that it is ‘Nepolization’( a Nepalese forms of Globalization).

Saurav Raj Pant, writer is a Kathmandu based foreign affairs blogger and campaigner