Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wasted resources, politics, and youth

That Nepal's got a huge potential in terms of hydropower (actually, water resources in general) is not a new fact. The main reason is that our rivers originate from high altitude terrain (the Himalayas in the northern belt) and flow down towards the southern parts through the hilly terrain. Because of the mountainous terrain, the rivers have very high currents, an essential characteristic for generation of hydropower.

Studies suggest that the total hydroelectric potential of Nepal is 83,500 MW (theoretically). It is believed that even after omitting all impractical factors, almost 40%-60% of this potential can be feasibly gained. What is it, if not an irony, that we are suffering from 12 hours (in late 2008 and early 2009, it scaled up to 20 hours) of power outage (not to mention the evergrowing scarcity of drinking water)? Believe it or not, the current total production of hydropower is less than 1% of the said potential.

The hydropower plants in Nepal are categorised as major, small and private (or independent power producers). The 10th National Water Plan - 2005 (a 3-year plan) revealed that approximately 389 MW power is being generated by major plants, 12.8 MW by small plants and 15.2 MW by private plants (IPPs). The same source mentioned that 80% of the nation's water resources can be converted into hydropower. I hope this gives you the idea of what we are dealing with here.

Why are we so much behind from realising our hydropower and other goals to a satisfactory level? I think it's partly due to our shortsighted policy makers and mainly due to the political instability (a crucial factor for development of any country). Another major cause is that we have to rely on other countries for the technologies needed to mobilise our resources, and obviously, the technically strong ones always tend to exploit their weaker counterparts.

I believe that if for once, we have a stable government with truly patriotic politicians, dedicated and transparent bodies and foresightful policy makers, we can accelerate our development process and attain greater heights within a decade or two. Besides, we need to reverse the brain drain this nation is suffering at large. In other words, we somehow need to convince our intellectual, highly educated and talented workforce (especially the youth) to abundantly contribute to the nation's development rather than settle in foreign lands. For this, they need to be positively motivated and given some sort of assurance, right? After all, nation building is not a unilateral task - it requires honest and selfless inputs from every Nepalese citizen.

It is true that being landlocked is a huge bottleneck for us, but there's no denial to the fact that Mother Nature has blessed us in so many other ways. We've talked about water resources. There used to be a time when agriculture did wonders here (not anymore). Tourism, our main source of foreign currency, is yet to flourish. talent our politicians can perhaps win all the world titles, I guess.While having a chat with some youths about two years ago, I got very excited and said that if only we could excel in those three sectors, our economy would automatically boom. Guess what - I saw the Minister of Finance (Dr. Baburam Bhattarai from the Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist) of that time saying exactly the same thing in his budget speech a couple of days later, which was televised throughout the nation. But we Nepalese are used to such speeches; speaking is one

Before we could see or feel any promising changes, the CPN Maoist led government was dissolved after they resigned due to a much debated domestic issue. Now they are demanding the dissolution of the current coalition government (led by CPN United - Marxist & Leninist, Nepalese Congress and 20 other parties) and looking for their re-entry through a nationwide general strike (effective since May 2). With only about 3 weeks to the deadline of our Constituent Assembly for the issuance of a new constitution (an interim one is in effect at present), the nation has been brought to a total halt by force. The leaders of the major parties are having the so-called 'high profile' but inconclusive meetings at venues like Radisson Hotel, etc. almost everyday.

Different speculations are being made about the current crisis. There's a group of intellects who believe that things will continue the way they are, until they cross the limit of tolerance of the general public. I would consider myself lucky to see that happen. I mean, to see some 28 million two legged conscienceless creatures forming a stampede and standing against the comparatively small group of politicians who are raping our motherland for their own petty benefits while the rest of the population (including myself) are silently witnessing all their wrongdoings, I would give everything I have.

I hate myself and my lot for having endured so much for such worthless causes. And I believe that if we ever need a revolution again, it's not the streets or battlefields we should target, but our own conscience. We must revolutionise the way we prioritise or interpret or judge things, and the way we relate ourselves to our motherland. Without any intention of sounding pessimistic, I often ask myself, “Will I live to see that day?”

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