Who Is My Neighbour?

The Romans conquered and ruled the then known world for 700 years. The longest established Empire to this date

Oct. 15, 2017, 11:26 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL.11, No.06,October 13- 2017 (Ashwin 27, 2074)

Indeed who is my neighbor or yours or ours in this weird world in which leaders seem to be bipolar cases lacking medication – saying one thing and meaning another, holding out promises of peace and assistance and blowing up babies the instance the promises are swept under the carpet? What brought the world to such a sorry pass? What indeed!

 I suppose that our political leaders pride themselves on the belief that, as PM Deuba mistakenly claimed during the question and answer period at Colombia University, there is no prejudice in Nepal. It’s one thing to defend the honour of our nation, but it’s another to tell an outright lie in doing so. But he is not the first or only politician to have done so. History is replete with broken promises and lying Statesmen. It’s even got its fair share of famous political philanderers: one or two of whom could have given the Hollywood gropers a run for their money.  

 The world being as ’wondrous large’ as it is we don’t have to worry about those prejudices that our politicians claim we don’t have, except, except except-------------, even if we, the hoi polloi don’t have them some people do, and what is more it is permitting the misuse of legal authority. As normally happens in a ‘clean’ administration if you need something you fill in a form and apply. Some dozen years ago, if my memory serves me well, which it usually does, a decision was made about visas and passports. The latter were to be given into the jurisdiction of the district offices and resident ex-pats who had lived and worked here for a certain number of years and could deposit enough money in the bank for their own support could, on reaching retirement age, apply for a retirement visa.

 Now, I do think it’s worth noting that Nepalese and ex-pats welcomed this regulation alike. It might surprise Mr.Dahal and his faithful cadre but there are quite a sizeable number of expats who have spent a good deal of their adult lives here and have done useful and creative work in Nepali environments and conditions. These people are from almost every section of the globe and they have no religious purpose in coming here. They either came on holiday, fell  in love with Nepal or a Nepali and didn’t return to their mother lands/ or they came married to someone who had a job to do here and during that time found more useful, humane contributions they could make and when their partner  retired they stayed on/or they were artists. Writers who found an inspiration here they hadn’t found anywhere else/or they were teachers who felt strongly that they could contribute to the education of children in the villages/or farmers bringing advanced techniques without expensive equipment/ and I could go on.

 I am sorry to say this Messrs Dahal et al. but I always did have a suspicion that once you came down out of the hills like the wolves you are on the fold, or to put it more accurately came bleating out of your Delhi hideouts with assurances from our friendly neighbours next door (neighbours who do not fit my definition of neighbours) things would change for ex-pats who do not swing by your offices with stacks of cash and a rich organisation behind them.

 Now as I suspected I hear stories of bona fide elders being told the retirement visas have been suspended ‘for now’. Does this mean people don’t get old any more or that our new consortiums are discussing how much more cash they can milk out of ‘phoren’ cows.

 Now that parties we did trust, UML, Congress - even if    we did not trust individuals in those parties, the parties had earned names for themselves- are jumping on to bandwagons with ‘strange bedfellows’ where should we go from here?

Our youth are leaving in droves and anyone who has witnessed them being herded along in Doha or Abu Dhabi as if they were cattle would weep to think of the homes they have left behind. They work like slaves and are treated like slaves and this is what the Peoples War has brought us!

 That’s one side of the migration coin, the youths going out. Our government has over the last decade shown its failure to create new jobs for youth. Throwing out elderly ex-pats who want to retire here at their own expense will not adjust the population balance.

 Another side is more serious because it involves a much wider swathe of global population and brings the conflicts and emotions that have been held down for generations to the fore-at least in some sections of the populations of Europe.

 How long have the continents known about each other’s peoples? I mean known in terms of culture; living conditions habits and so forth. What were the ancestral motivations for either seeking other peoples out or hiding away from them? 

 It seems to me that Before the Common Era as we call it today and all it brought us in new philosophies and sciences etc. the totality of human knowledge was religious   and historical. This is not to say that the Bible, Talmud and Koran were stretching over eons of time. I am thinking of the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, The Bhagavad Gita,

The Epic of Gilgamesh and more which were the markers of human history. Each clan had oral traditions and myths too. Some peoples we had heard of but never seen or met—the Chinese managed to evade the rest of the world long enough to invent some of the most useful instruments humans possess. Then came the Pax Romana! 

 The Romans conquered and ruled the then known world for 700 years. The longest established Empire to this date. They built roads and baths and townscapes and some of their accomplishments have not been bested until this day. The old Roman Roads still exist in many parts of the world and in many others their extant foundations are being uncovered. They are remarkable feats of engineering. More remarkable were the Roman citizenship legislations.

 No matter where you were born within the empire you were Roman and equal to every other Roman no matter the colour of your eyes or skin. Those born outside the Empire could apply for citizenship and swear an oath to the Republic. The same regulations applied to them as to those born citizens.

 Now readers let me point out that the Romans were cruel too particularly to slaves and criminals: crucifixion was a special forte. Isn’t it then surprising that in matters of citizenship and rights of abode they were so far ahead of our democratic leaders of Nepal?    

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