On 29th March I suddenly recalled to mind a Pop Song with the above title which I had heard many, many years ago. The whole song which was popular and a hit consisted of just these three words. A new version in plural i.e. titled ‘Fingers & Thumbs’ sung in Western cowboy style has been brought out in 2020 by the US Teague Brothers Band. Surprisingly on 29/03/2021 I recalled, in line with this thinking in my mind a book titled just ‘Finger’ by Christopher Wilkins and published by Pan Books in 1972. This is a rather off the track book but it gave birth to the thought that our government should ‘Aunla Thad au’ to all the ‘bhunde’ contract defaulters. Is this a correct stance? Are those in power or those who were, in a position to do so?
On this same day there was a Tweet in Twitter showing three girls crossing a river on a twine displaying perhaps the reality of what exists in many parts of Nepal. That these would be something of a past era was a commitment made by our government. Sadly it needs to be fulfilled still. Side by side with is picture of the Dharahara, a National project in the last stages of completion. Coupled with this, there is for the capital inhabitants the projected / 21 story Kathmandu View Tower in the old bus park with an uncertain date of completion. Furthermore there are various view towers of varying heights of iron rods and solid concrete to gaze at mountains which can be seen quite easily from ground level. Also in vogue are welcoming / farewell bidding concrete gate structures of many towns. Lastly are yet to be built concrete bridges in different parts of Nepal by politically connected construction firms which though past their contract limitation periods show no sign of being completed soon. Surely all these were made with legal commitments? Have both we and our leaders got out priorities right.
The Rising Nepal, a government mouthpiece had an item regarding the delay in the 59 % constructed Postal Highway. Delay in the initial contractors work and subsequent obstructions were the causes. Most important was the government delay in paying compensation to the owners of the land which they would have to sacrifice. Compensation for it was their right. Another requirement to be fulfilled was going through or bypassing the protected National Forest Reserves i.e. areas or park. Lastly was the hesitancy or even disappearance of the contractor or delay in starting the work. Last but not least was the delay by the contractor for almost two years to start the work.
The truth is the almost eternal refrain of all such politically favoured contractors is that it is the shortage of ‘Sand & Gravel’ while the reality is that illegal procurement of sand and gravel has been going on unchecked for years. This is the standard cry or ‘belona’ of contractors awarded various contracts as per their nearness to the political parties!
As I recollect that it was during the time of Chandra & Joodha Shumsher that Nepal had helped the British in India to build railroads to transport troops to the war fronts. Even after their independence it was customary for Nepal to transport rocks and even big boulders to India. One recalls that whilst travelling from Tansen to Butwal that passengers have to get down and traverse across a stretch of the road on foot as the movement of the bus might start the hurtling down of rocks from above. After passengers had crossed this stretch, then only would the empty bus traverse this hazardous stretch and pick up the passengers on the other side. There have been past instances when a rock has come hurtling down the mountain and killed passengers travelling in a jeep or car along the road below! What was apparent even some forty years ago was the absence of rock in the river along side the road as they had all been transported by truck to India. Such was the mentality of us Nepalis to transport boulders using imported fuel, paid for by Dollars to India. A corresponding action by the South Koreans was to export expensive electronic equipment to different parts of the world with similar fuel imported from elsewhere but in a wise manner. We should perhaps learn and develop
With the entire nation building that is being done centrally and in all the Pradesh governments it is necessary that we use the resources that we have at hand for the building of Nepal. These should be used for the benefit of our own people. So far, we Nepalis have been involved in what is called entrepot trade or ‘eitherka mal udhar aur udharka mal either’. This perhaps is however going to be the reality for us as we are sandwiched with two great neighbours – both North and South. Interconnectivity is in the airways and by the optical fibres of the twenty first century, but what is required in movements along by road and rail if quick improvement is what is required. Why don’t our computer savvy youngsters develop software’s plus websites and market these abroad as is being done by individuals in Bangalore and Hyderabad of India?
The talk these days is about saving our environment so that we leave it the same condition that we found it in for future generations. Are we doing that is a grave question that we should put all our minds too? What we are currently doing is cutting down the trees and plants and replacing all with high-rise building reminiscent of what can be termed a ‘Concrete Jungle’. Many might query, “What to do with the current population explosion?” An apt question about which we all have to put our minds to! At this time of Holi revelry, I on my part am inclined to mumble just ‘Sand & Gravel, Sand and Gravel’ on and on again in this age of concrete!