My morning routine n the past few weeks has been to start a blog entry about Nepal, then abandon it. There hasn’t been the urgency I felt during the petrol blockade, and the issue of the day is not so easily portrayed. That doesn’t mean that the earthquake victims aren’t still suffering, or that the problems have gone away. Nepal is a leading country for child malnutrition and “stunting", and there are signs of “food instability” in the near future — i.e., poor rainfall causing crop failure. When we talk about food insecurity it’s a polite euphemism for famine and starvation.
The fact is, there is more than one Nepal. There is the Nepal of rockjock legend — manly men (and driven women) conquering the Himalaya. Then there is the vagabond tourist vision of Nepal — (it’s a major stop on the trail for every Israeli backpacker.) But finally, it’s a country of poverty and people trying to make a life. The day-to-day lifestyle is one in which people try to live each day to the most of it’s potential. For me the prime attractions of visiting there are when I can see the daily joy of life. It was in Nepal that I first heard the sentiment “Somebody forgot to tell these people they’re not supposed to be happy.”
Nepal in the news
The BBC reported that unused climbing permits will be extended with no additional fee.
Since the blockade ended, there is considerably less speculation in the media as to the competence of the current Prime Minister. He took a six-day State Visit to India, as all Prime Ministers of Nepal must do, and declared it a success. This visit did not pay off in terms of new agreements, new commitments for India to invest in Nepal, or announcing the fulfillment on Nepal’s “wish list” for Indian largesse.
The past six months have highlighted the existence of “The Terai" as a force to be reckoned with in the country. There is plenty of speculation as to the future for the Madhesh movement. Why it failed. What will happen next. “The Ass,” a satire column, has gotten into the act. It’s clear that a new generation has been awakened and radicalized — see the video link below. Amnesty International released a report on Nepal that examined the current issues of human rights.
State Department cancels travel warning for Nepal
Here is an article by the Kathmandu Post. They wrote:
Mar 1, 2016- The United States has lifted restrictions on their citizens travelling to Nepal.
The restriction was issued on October 8, 2015 for geological instability in Nepal following the Gorkha Earthquake, the monsoon season, unrest in Tarai, and country-wide fuel shortages.
“Because conditions have changed, the Travel Warning was cancelled effective February 29, 2016,” read a statement issued by Embassy of the United States in Kathmandu on Tuesday. bit.ly/...
The Kathmandu Post didn’t quite “get it.” The US government did not restrict travel to Nepal, it was merely reporting the assessed risk. It is the God-given right of every American to go to just about any foreign country and do something stupid while there. The Embassy was merely trying to minimize the times it needed to send a junior consular official to the local jail at midnight.
Voices of young Nepalis in Terai.
Yes, the audio is in Nepali and Maithili, but the subtitles are in English.
For me, I will return to my customary focus on Global Health in Nepal, especially on health professions education. I’ve learned a lot about the politics while the blockade was in place, but my interest since 2007 has been to work with Nepalis to improve emergency response. Speaking of which, today the Kathmandu Post published an update on the protests against the current setup of medical education.
“Global Health” is a buzzword in itself. From Wikipedia:
Global health is the health of populations in a global context; it has been defined as "the area of study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide". Problems that transcend national borders or have a global political and economic impact are often emphasized. Thus, global health is about worldwide health improvement, reduction of disparities, and protection against global threats that disregard national borders. Global health is not to be confused with international health, which is defined as the branch of public health focusing on developing nations and foreign aid efforts by industrialized countries.
Read more at: en.wikipedia.org/...
I hope to post some diaries about Global Health, in the run-up.
San Francisco, April 8th through 11th
The American Consortium of Universities in Global Health (hashtag #cugh2016) will have their annual meeting in the Bay Area this year. I will attend to present a poster on health professions education in Nepal, along with one of the Nepali persons who has helped with the project. Hope to see you there!