Kathmandu, Kathmandu-ites and Outsiders

This article is in response to article by Kaagmandu Magazine .

First, anyone who has a permanent settlement in Kathmandu has wished the people going to their home outside valley to celebrate Dashain with their loved ones would never comeback. But this conception is mostly acknowledging the fact the Kathmandu is indeed peaceful and more-tolerable when it’s less populated rather than a prejudice against the people of different geographic and cultural landscape. Though, I admit there are still prejudice in the community. Both from the “Newars” who were the prior residents of this valley and the “outsiders” who settled here before 2 decades ago.

However, after the initial acknowledgement, the more you think about it, the less it makes sense. Let’s ignore all the philosophical part where we all are just temporary visitors in this planet and the neo-philosophical part where we all have our distaste for segregating the people of the world based on geographical lines and cultures.

We, humans, have since our inception have had the tendency to move to a place with resources, exploit it, reproduce and grow, and then move to another place with higher resources to fulfill the growing need.

Story of Kathmandu after the supposed “aggregation of Nepal” is the same. People started migrating here because it was the capital of the country. All the governmental and institutional resources were centralized here. So first let debunk the bullshit that Kathmandu got worse after people migrated here. People migrated here because of the opportunity. The same would have happened if the capital of the country was declared somewhere else (maybe Gorkha? ). So it’s the other way around, people HAD to migrated here to have equal opportunity.

Most of the fault lies with our developmental policies and centralization of institutional and governmental resources. Kathmandu is overpopulated, over-pollutioned and under-managed due to all these bad policy and utterly terrible and incompetent city planning. Every religion, culture, cast, whatever shit you want to segregate yourself into is responsible for this.

The only way to solve this is to put more effort into developing cities and villages outside of valley WITH proper planning. Creating basic infrastructure will give locals more opportunities to grow economically. This in turn will decrease the current need to rely on Kathmandu for people to be economically well. Making better universities outside will decrease the need to rely on education in Kathmandu (not that it is any better here either). I do understand it will take time. Just as startup companies have to have reserve operational cash for months, government will have to be patient with budget in the new cities. But this will bear fruit. People will not have to rely on Kathmandu for everything. People will be able to exploit the resources in their own locales.

It is not the matter of if the tenants or restaurants or any other business will survive if these “outsides” don’t return back. None of the districts is self sufficient in this age. Trade is an integral part of the current civilization. Everyone will suffer. And for god sakes, developing tourism is not the answer to everything. Relying too much tourism revenues diminishes the chances of developing any other sectors.

The only thing I believe, we and every other “outsiders” are at fault is destroying, then not preserving or restoring, the art and architecture of the Kathmandu Valley. But then again we’ve not restored architecture of any other culture either.

We still act like Kathmandu is the whole Nepal. We all want a piece of this valley. We’re all sheeps. Why settle for just Kathmandu when you can call Nepal your home? Why blames each other for destroying beauty of Kathmandu when we are destroying the beauty of Nepal? Why not work towards developing every nooks and corners of this nation. It’s not that big anyway. But it’s all ours. Let’s stop arguing on who’s land this is and think about how we can develop Nepal as a whole.

Lastly, let’s stop all the hate. We’re no different. We’re all greedy. We all want good things to ourselves. We are all possessive of our belongings while believing what everyone others have should be shared.

It is still not too late to save this city we all love. Building a wall around Kathmandu valley is definitely not a solution.