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The role of foreign governments in Nepal

December 24, 2000

Nepal news


Many of you will have heard or read about the notion of 'foreign aid'. We are often told how various generous and kind Western governments regularly donate millions of dollars to our country every year. At first glance it seems as if such donations are a gift, given with the noble sentiment of 'Christian Charity'. Western governments give huge amounts of hard cash directly to SinghaDurbar as if there are no strings attached. But if only such were true. If only these governments really did have the suffering of the people in the developing world uppermost in their motives. The true reality of 'foreign aid' is that, despite billions of dollars being processed for decades between the two worlds, the gap between the richer nations and the developing world has not reduced at all. In fact it has actually broadened to such extent that even the poorest of Western tourists can now travel to Nepal with ease. You might believe that all this 'aid' was given with good intent, that it failed to improve general living conditions simply through the mismanagement of our various governments over the years. But the truth is very different. The policy of 'foreign aid' by the West has been a glittering success for it was never aimed at reducing our poverty but rather the enrichment of their own wealth.

In much the same way as various businesses fund political parties in order to promote company profits on a national level, so too do Western governments fund friendly and acquiescent governments in the developing world for commercial profit on an international level. In exchange for such baksheesh, we must give their nominated companies preferential contracts and prevent the development of local industries that might challenge the monopoly of their products. Have you ever wondered how it is that the range of fizzy drinks never alters and is exactly the same all over the world?

So it is that in the business of pharmaceuticals, another big money-spinner, whilst many of the raw materials for various drugs are grown in Nepal, the packaged product is made in India under license from various major Western corporations such as Glaxo and Welcome. That chain of business simply takes our resources at the lowest possible price and then sells them back after simple processing with gigantic profit. And that example is just the tip of an iceberg. The simple reality is that Nepal (P.) LTD is a wholly owned subsidiary of India Inc. which itself is a wholly owned subsidiary of the various western companies that fund its development.

If you want the whole picture in a nutshell, one might simply imagine that Globalization has turned the whole world into a single city-state. Inside it there is a beautiful compound with a golden palace surrounded by luxurious villas and a luscious garden. A few privileged and wealthy people spend their lives enjoying its pleasures whilst outside its heavily guarded frontiers, millions of workers toil in filthy and unhealthy conditions. They spend their lives in a gigantic factory built and funded by the compound for the purpose of providing toys and trinkets for people of the compound and profit for its owners. Occasionally the compound people make short journeys into the factory both for amusement and to be certain that production lines are kept functioning. But there is no escape for the factory workers. They are kept in a gigantic prison in which a few privileged inmates are paid by the compound to control the workers.

The walls of the compound are immensely high and no one from the factory is allowed to enter without the most rigorous control. The air in the factory is thick with the fumes of production and the water is polluted by the sheer mass of humanity enslaved within it. The workers may be desperate for a decent meal but there can be no escape. Whilst the compound dwellers gorge themselves to a point of obesity, rice and dahl is the endless diet of the workers. Nothing changes year on year and as fast as the workers gain more pay, the cost of their daily needs is increased to maintain their poverty - and thus their dependence on the factory.

Of course the people of the compound could easily share their garden and their riches but sharing doesn't come easily to the wealthy. Instead they give baksheesh to their chosen factory managers who must keep the production lines going and their workers enslaved. But for every dollar they give, the compound expects a hundred in return. The managers may take a cut of profits but the compound grows ever richer whilst the factory becomes ever more crowded, ever more filthy and ever more laden with despair.

A century ago, when the Earth huge and green, such was the picture within each nation state. Factory workers lived in filth and poverty whilst the owners and the aristocracy lived in wealth and luxury. But by the will of the people that situation was changed. After two world wars Western workers won their struggle for fair pay and equality of opportunity. Now Nepal must go through the same process of change. It will not be easy and there is a bigger fight ahead for the goal of all mankind must be the same rights of opportunity and fairness for all citizens in every country across the globe. For as long as the suffering of our nation continues, the world can never rest at ease with itself and the pressure for change will always burn strongly.

With my best wishes to you all,