Nepal stepped on the publicity stag in mid twentieth century and attracted the world's attention. Being cast as a member of the Least Developed and even Land Locked Countries was our status and misfortune.
The Gurkhas were there but it was
mountaineering and the ascent of Everest in 1953 that has highlighted Nepal. The first ascents by men and women were
followed by the repetition of such a feat without oxygen. Later were the record of multiple ascents of
Everest by Ang Rita, quickest ascent and longest period spent at the summit etc. Two Nepalis, Pem & Moni were the first to
get married on Mt. Everest on 30th May 2005. An attempt to gather the largest number of
crows on the Tundikhel by a Nepali making cawing sounds to set a record in the
Guinness Book of Records failed. Later
the shortest person in the world, and so on.
But does all this really matter when we as a nation have not been able
to develop the living standards of our people?
It seems that we Nepalis are vying for world records so that some
seconds of spotlight falls on our land or on the individual concerned. Is our ego then satisfied? Have these seconds of publicity really
bettered our way of life? Or is this
just a publicity stunt carried out by the pranksters on simple Nepalis?
An event was recently held to break an Indian attained achievement in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest congregation of people advocating a cause. This was organised on 3rd March at the Tundikhel for publicising the fact that 'Buddha was Born in Nepal' with the recitation of Buddhist scriptures. Though a figure of 75 thousand was expected, only an estimated 50 thousand people attended the event addressed also by PM Oli. This number however exceeded the previous record of 46,600 persons reciting the 'Jana Pana' written by an Indian poet of the 16th Century.
There was a gathering of 1000 blood donors organised on 8th March in the Tundikhel at Kathmandu when Minister Lal Babu Pandit talked about the importance of donating blood. This event was organised by a Lions Club to supersede the record of 900 pints collected in one day in India.
Also in March of 2018 The Independent newspaper of UK reported and the news subsequently posted in Facebook that India had planted 66 million saplings of twenty species trees along the banks of the Narbada River in Madhya Pradesh in 12 hours with the aid of 1.5 million volunteers. This had apparently broken a record of 50 million plantings in one day, set the previous year at Uttar Pradesh.
It is beyond my understanding as to why this enthusiasm to break the Guinness World Records set in India by conducting similar events here to attract the attention of the people. Is this a modern day replay of the fight between King David and the giant Goliath of Biblical times? Is this a sign of neoliberals or a signal to the outer world that we Nepalis can snub our elder brother in front of the changing world order? Or is it all a stunt by PR advocates or advertising agencies to draw attention to their existence? Is this an effort to drive a wedge in the long standing ties between our two countries?
Mr. Shahid K Abbasi, the current prime minister of Pakistan who visited Nepal recently started Pakistan's annual campaign of Spring Tree Planting in 2018 by planting a sapling at the PM's Office. We should try to emulate this in all the SAARC countries as a common program. Such efforts will be appreciated as it will have great impact on the lives of the citizens in our region where the cities are being turned into concrete jungles. Even China is building a city of 40,000 trees to fight pollution at Liuzhou in Guanxi Province.
Nepali children still read in their text books, a slogan coined by Jung Bahadur "Hariyo Ban, Nepal ko Dhan". There have been periodic reports in the newspapers about the sanctioned cutting down of trees for setting up e.g. Purbanchal University, Medical College at Gaeta and for the Fast Track to Nijgadh. There are reports too of illegal cutting of trees and the unsuccessful attempts to smuggle timber. The 'Char Kose Jhadi' has been much reduced for the proposed construction of the East West Electric Train. This is the end result of an activity which originated when PM Chandra Shumsher allowed trees to be felled for railway 'sleepers' to help the British build quickly a railroad to the war front in then Western India. The railroad was built, troops transported and World War I won. Subsequently during the Panchayat days there was also extensive cutting down of trees though it was customary to have tree plantings done at various sites on certain specific occasions. Still the situation must have been bleak for a 'Ban Mantri' is said to have remarked, 'What work am I to do when there are just stumps remaining?' Can the environmental degradation in our homeland be reversed?
All is not despair. There are technologies to cover the desert sand with soil transported from elsewhere, supply the water and under coverage of even tents to grow grass and plants to make it all green once again. This blossoming of such oasis on massive scale would be the method to stop the desertification of the world.
There have also been comments in FB that in those days of our boundary less region, that Buddha was born in a part of Kapilavastu that is now part of Nepal. He received his enlightenment whilst in India. Gautam Buddha now belongs to the world, so why this hullabaloo?