Wednesday, 21 February, 2024

Is Nepal A Rich Country?


Dr. Balmukunda Regmi

Nepal is a rich country. It boasts diverse altitudes from 59 meters (Mukhiyapatti Musharniya in Dhanusha) to 8849 meters (Sagarmatha peak in Solukhumbu), climatic variation ranging from tropical in the south to alpine in the north. According to Nepal Fifth National Report to Convention on Biological Diversity (2014), a total of 118 ecosystems have been identified in Nepal, including 112 forest ecosystems, four cultivation ecosystems, one water body ecosystem and one glacier/snow/rock ecosystem. Covering just 0.1 per cent of global land area, it harbours the world's 3.2 per cent flora and 1.1 per cent fauna. National Trust for Nature Conservation, a total of 284 flowering plants, 160 animal species, including one mammal species, one bird species and 24 herpetofauna are endemic to this land.
Nepal is a rich country. Some six thousand rivers are our lifelines. These rivers are used to generate hydropower and get water for irrigation, industrial and domestic purposes. Through proper planning, there is huge potential for electricity production, irrigation, water transportation, and the development of lakes, rivers and snow-based tourism. Water Resources of Nepal in the Context of Climate Change 2011 published by the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat, puts the hydropower potential of Nepal as 83 thousand megawatts of which 114 projects having forty-five thousand megawatts have been identified as economically feasible. In terms of the value for renewable internal freshwater resources per capita, Nepal ranked 61st with annual 7366 m3 as of 2014 (Mundi index), higher than that of China and India.
Nepal is a rich country. So far 131 languages are in the record of the Language Commission. Some of them have written scripts, others have developed spoken form only. Devanagari, Sambhota, Sirijangha, Prachalit Ranjana, Srijanga, Rong, Akha, Tirahuta/Mithilakshara, Kaithi, Perso-Arabic, Tamahig, Santhal, Bangla, Gurumukhi, Roman scripts are recorded as currently in use in Nepal, according to Dr Lok Bahadur Lopchan, Spokesman, Language Commission. All these languages are an achievement of hundreds of generations of ancestors of the native speakers. Not only means of communications, but they are also witnessing and bearers of history, culture, religion and an important part of identity itself. In the era of globalisation which is helping the dying out of one language every two weeks, it gives us great satisfaction that out of seven thousand languages in the world 1.87 per cent are thriving in this Himalayan state.
Nepal is a rich country. It does not matter whether one is a devout worshiper, a karmic engaged in fulfilling his dharma of participation in personal and social activity understood as norms, or a very critique of the system in whose cradle he continues to grow, he finds a role model in the very history of his society. Half-rebel, the Buddha is considered the ninth incarnation of God. Here has flourished a unique system that absorbs, absolves, tolerates, understands, manages, inspires, unites and solves thousands of seemingly conflicting ideas into one, in course of time. After each of the famines, tornados, earthquakes, fires, floods, landslides and wars, this part of land and people comes to a sense. Once again, coexistence, cooperation and harmony are agreed upon. People realize that peace and prosperity are possible only when we all follow the dharma in dealing with other men, other creatures and Nature.
Nepal is a rich country. We have roots. We are a civilization that respects the roots from Fish to Giant Tortoise to Giant Boar to Human Lion to Vamana the Dwarf to Parashurama the Warrior with an Axe to Rama to Krishna to Buddha to Kalki (the One Who has to come yet) as the Reincarnations of the Personality of Godhead, and perhaps each incarnation representing an image of our stage of development during the long process of evolution.
This scribe believes mankind still carries not only DNA but the psyche from them. Call them myths; Tulasi and kush the grasses, pipal, var, shami the trees, shaligrama the stone, fire, fireplace, air, water, rivers, ponds, oceans, mountain, cow, cow dung, naga the snake, scorpion, spider, the sun and the moon, the planets, roads and bridges, broom, door, copper, coins, books, chhuchundro the shrews, door, pillow, lamp, and many more find themselves kowtowed daily or during festivals and rituals dispersed throughout the year or decades in their honour. This is how Nepal has become a land of gods and temples. No need to say the respects paid to ancestors, parents, elderly, teachers, daughters and sisters. Strangers? They are treated as guests 'the gods'.
Nepal is a rich country. Breezes of cool and fresh air, water gliding down from the snow-capped mountains and melting under the sunbath on the way pay homage to us the lucky residents. Rishis the wise men of ancient to present, through their interaction with the nature and observation of human health, have learned, discovered, developed and taught us Ayurveda the health science. It is an all in one lifestyle. As long as one follows the lifestyle suggested by the yogis, get up early in the morning, carry out the duties as necessary for the livelihood, practice pranayama the proper breathing, dhyana the meditation, asanas the proper postures, eat and drink sattvik the healthy food that is easy to digest in an appropriate amount, and remain away from ill-thoughts controlling mana the desire, the chances of falling sick are low. Should one lose good health, the Ayurveda and mantras of the hymns are there to provide physical, mental and spiritual support.
Hardships are periodic. Apparent economic wants are semi-true. We need to wake up, self-realize, stand up, and continue fulfilling our duty. Travelling to see new places and people, learning new insights in the process is commendable. Everywhere is a part of the same Mother Earth, one can migrate to where his heart smiles. Such migrations have brought Nepali blood and civilization to different parts of the world, creating a worldwide network of Nepali Diaspora, which we can and should take as extensions and strengths of broader Nepali civilization, to which we should maintain a living relation in every aspect and at all levels. However, one does not need to migrate just to win an easy life and become a rich man. All aspects considered, Nepal is a rich country. For one born in Nepal, it is richer.

(The writer is a professor of pharmacy at Tribhuvan University,