A National Agenda: Nepal in Transition

DSC_6793

Interview with Nepalese Ambassador Kaman Singh Lama

“Korea is a partner and model of growth for Nepal. Nepal has a lot to offer and we need the help of our partners to make the best out of our potential.” Nepalese envoy to Korea Kaman Singh Lama in an exclusive interview with the Magazine N. He explains that in the duration of the transition his country is facing, partner countries and the private sector needs to strongly consider opportunities his country is offering. Despite the current challenges, he looks positively at the hardworking Nepali, drawn overseas for better opportunities, hoping that one day there will be enough opportunities for them to consider staying home. To this end, diplomacy, he believes will play an important role. Ambassador Lama explains, “Not only will the Nepali mission to Korea need to play an important role in attracting investments, but the role of thousands of Nepali men and women in changing perceptions about our country will have a huge impact in the future of our country.”

Internal Instability: A Struggle for Social Inclusion
Opting for violence due to high dissatisfaction with the monarchy and the government, Maoists, formally the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) staged a civil war that lasted a decade. From the unrest that started in 1995 that has claimed thousands of lives, Maoists signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the government in 2006, which has abolished the monarchy transitioning the country from a constitutional monarchy to a republic.

Maoists, including their regional cohorts, turned tables to their favor, gaining public trust by ending the years of political instability. They won a huge portion of seats in the Constituent Assembly of Nepal in 2008, where Maoist leader Prachanda rose to premiership. However, politics moved once more: Sushil Koirala, the leader of the pro-parliamentarian Nepali Congress, was elevated to premiership in 2014, showing the lack of unity among Maoists and their cohorts. Last January 22, the Constituent Assembly failed once more to approve the promulgation of the constitution, reflecting the continued unrest in Nepali politics in the post-civil war setting.

Ambassador Lama says that this is part and parcel of the transition that the country is facing, where he believes that all the diversity in ethnicity, religion, language and culture should be reflected in the constitution that promotes harmony and unity for years to come. “The discord in the politics of Nepal shows that there is genuine perseverance in identifying the marginalized, oppressed and disadvantaged group of the society. Engaging with them in bringing out the new constitution and pushing for a consensus is necessary.” he says.

However, the burgeoning risk of strife as the unstable political situation continues in Nepal poses threats to the future of the country, especially to the economy.

Nepalese famers work in the beginning of the monsoon season in Khokana near Kathmandu. Nepalese economy still heavily relies on agriculture and the government looks forward to moving into other sectors to diversify its economy. (Photo : Xinhua)

Nepalese famers work in the beginning of the monsoon season in Khokana near Kathmandu. Nepalese economy still heavily relies on agriculture and the government looks forward to moving into other sectors to diversify its economy. (Photo : Xinhua)

Safeguarding Economic Growth
Still being highly dependent on agriculture for its revenue and to foreign aid for its development budget, economic diversification is a tall task. As such, foreign missions of Nepal have an important task of attracting investments to make sure that the country is able to get its much needed hard currency. Ambassador Lama believes that while his country still has a long way to go, the undivided vision towards economic development is present through the five-year economic plan that the country has been utilizing. “Through the 12 consecutive five-year economic planning that Nepal has utilized, Nepal has able to attain socio-economic progress. While at a slow pace, Nepal has successfully brought down the level of poverty from 59 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in 2013.”, he explains.

He adds that his government is dedicated to have the country graduate from the least developed country stage to become a developing one.

The Nepalese envoy to Korea sees that water is an important factor for the development of Nepal. Properly managing its water resources will not only enable Nepal to address the issues of food sustainability and climate change, but establish it is an area with tremendous potential to develop, as Nepal has 2.27 percent of the total world water supply. He claims that with proper infrastructure, Nepal will be able to produce about 300,000 megawatt power of hydroelectricity that will go beyond the needs of the country. In face of climate change and environmental degradation, this great potential of the country is being threatened.

Tourism shows huge potential and is one of Nepal’s greatest assets, says Ambassador Lama. Housing eight of the ten highest mountain peaks in the world including Mount Everest, Nepal is an important destination for mountain climbers and adventure seekers. Nepal is home to important religious sites for both Hindus and Buddhists, and particularly Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, enlisted as a UNESCO world heritage site, is located in southern Nepal. Promoting these tourism sites is an important task for the embassy here in Seoul, says the ambassador.

Amidst political turbulence, the hardworking Nepali still strives to work day to day without being deterred in hopes that one day the country will be able to maximize its potential.

Remittances from Nepalese men and women working overseas are important to fund the much needed economic development projects for education and social services in Nepal. While a huge number of Nepalese workers are in India, lesser is it known that Korea is a popular destination for Nepalese with 22,000 in the country, working and studying.

As the hydropower sector of Nepal is seen to be the provide the much needed boost for the Nepalese economy, various efforts such as the Power Summit are hosted by the Nepalese government. (Photo : Xinhua)

As the hydropower sector of Nepal is seen to be the provide the much needed boost for the Nepalese economy, various efforts such as the Power Summit are hosted by the Nepalese government. (Photo : Xinhua)

Support from Nepali Overseas Important
Through the Employment Permit System of the Korean government, unskilled Nepalese workers are able to stay in Korea for short periods of time and able to send money back home. While Ambassador Lama is appreciative that the opportunities for the Nepalese to migrate to in migration in his country of assignment have been improving throughout the years, he hopes that there will be an increase of skilled labor in the future. This will only be possible through more investment in the education sector of Nepal, in which he hopes that partners from all over the world will be able to partake. “Nepalese living in Korea are hardworking and disciplined,” he says, with high hopes to see a flourishing relationship between the two countries in the years to come.

Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » appearance » Widgets » and move a widget into Advertise Widget Zone