“We Need Stability First, Then Aid For Change” Manohar Prasad Bhattarai

Having served at the Constituent Assembly and Legislature Parliament for over nine years as the General Secretary, MANOHAR PRASAD BHATTARAI, who is one of the graduates of a Japanese University, spoke to New Spotlight on how Japanese education contri

Aug. 31, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol 10.No.3, September 02,2016 (Bhadra 17, 2073)

As Nepal and Japan have been celebrating sixty years of their bilateral relations, how has Japan’s education contributed in your career as an official in the top position of Nepal’s Legislature Parliament? How useful is Japanese education to Nepal in the local context?

I completed my preliminary education in Nepalese education institutions. I completed my graduation from Tribhuvan University. Although I was admitted to master's class, I was unable to complete it because of my appointment in civil service. However, I got opportunities to pursue my academic qualification during my service period.  After completing a post-graduation diploma from the Netherlands, I went to Japan to study for a master's degree. I went there under a scholarship and completed a Master's in International Relations from International University of Japan in the 1985-1987 batch. I am also the first Nepalese student to complete the Master's Degree from that university.

Although the university was newly established in the 1980s, following Japan’s high economic progress, Japanese had realized the need to set up a high standard international university to meet the aspirations of Japanese citizens to internationalize them.  Japanese have invited students and highly qualified faculty members and teachers from all over the world. This is not a regular kind of university, an overwhelming number of students were on the job. All the students were professionals. In the process of expansion, the university had started various faculties, including business management. Recently, it has also expanded its curriculum in Information Technology sector. This is now one of the important and prestigious universities of Japan.

I see the opportunity to pursue my studies in that university as the turning point of my life. I had the privilege to attend the classes of highly reputed Japanese professors and academicians. I also got to make contacts with high level politicians and people of other walks of life in Japan. For instance, I maintain good relations with former Japanese foreign minister Saburō Ōkita, who was a faculty member of our university. I had the privilege to attend his class. I can name many other highly academic economists and highly regarded politicians. As I got an opportunity to pursue my education in such a high level university and in a sound environment, I regard it as my turning point. What I am today in the current status, my education in Japan has played a prominent role. I personally believe that it is the Japanese education which helped me a lot to get to the present status.

How do you look at the difference that Japanese education made to help you handle a crucial period of Nepalese political history as the General Secretary during the constitution writing?

I can realize that I have learnt a lot from my interactions with Japanese. Japanese people have taught me to speak less and work more. This kind of thinking helped me a lot to build my career. During the most difficult period, as a general secretary of Constituent Assembly and Legislature Parliament, my education made me a lot different. Japanese are the people who are very much concerned about their own responsibility, duty, law and regulation. My experiences in Japan guided or governed my self-consciousness. Japanese follow the way even when there is no law. They maintained self-discipline during the course of fulfilling their duty.  However, we speak more and do less. This cultural and social values of Japan had a deeper influence on me. I used it as a mantra in the workplace, spoke less and did more. 

You also speak fluent Japanese. Are you still maintaining your old social contacts in Japan to further enhance people-to-people relations?

Even after decades, I still maintain my relations with Japanese friends, university scholars, professors and others from  different walks of life. Japanese professors and friends who visit Nepal always contact me. When I meet people from Japan, I realize that I left an impression about my country in Japan. This must have helped enhance people-to-people relations even with younger generation of Japanese. After completing my course, many Nepalese people went to Japan, batch after batch. However, I feel a very great satisfaction when my old Japanese contacts come to see me while visiting Nepal.

Although there were possibilities for me to go for further studies in Europe or America, I am proud that I landed in Japan for study, for they taught me the importance of country’s belonging and love to my own culture. I am satisfied by my choice to go to Japan. Had I not been in Japan, my current position would not have been like this. I might have been attracted to leave the country like so many others. I am motivated to serve my own land. One of the Minister of Education, who also went to Japan, appreciated my choice of further study in Japan. He congratulated me for my choice. His experience was that students who went to Japan returned home after completing the course. However, those, who went to western countries for education, left the country. This is the difference.  Japanese education taught us how to love the country and respect its culture and values to make them proud. The minister's remarks have been the guidelines in my career.

In the last sixty years, Japan has provided support in all development sectors. What do you want to see for the future?

Instead of seeking support, what Nepal needs now is political stability and political order. Political instability and social disorders have badly affected our development process. Without political stability, it is impossible to utilize the foreign assistance. Until we can make our political system and bureaucracy accountable and responsible, nothing can bring change to Nepal. Whatever be the assistance of Japan and any other country, it will be immaterial unless we have the political stability. Nepal is unable to benefit from foreign aid. Political, social and other institutions are unable to bring change in Nepal. We need to bring change with support from Japan.

 

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