When a common enemy - the Mega Earthquake - struck, we finally saw the spirit of nationalism that almost every Nepali claimed they had in abundance. The pandering politicians finally got on the horse and drafted a constitution, the Nepal Army, Police and Armed Forces went above and beyond their call of duty while conducting rescue operations, and the youths of Nepal sprang into action to help all those in need. Today, almost three months later, this spirit is still seen although it may have lost some of its original drive. But we cannot afford to lose the momentum that has been gathered because Nepal still needs changes – and an abundance of it.
For me, progress is a secondary step, one that that can only be achieved after people come together for the greater good. The earthquake may have jolted us physically closer but most of us still remain divided in our hearts and minds. If people are not fully committed to achieving a common goal then any progress made will be lost to procrastination, apathy and even sabotage (like it has in the past). Well aimed developmental goals like the Melamchi Water Supply Project or the construction of various hydropower plants have still to show any results because all those involved are on their own singular paths, far away from the cause for the common good. Thus, progress in Nepal, at least for the present, will have to be viewed as successfully building solidarity among the Nepalese and directing them towards a common agenda.
Before we move on to any herculean task, we must first indulge in small changes, changes that bring us to respect not just this nation of ours but also each other. Such an atmosphere can be built even with small goals like helping in keeping the streets clean, segregating our wastes, abiding by the laws of the land and volunteering our time in orphanages, animal shelters and such. These little things can, over time, generate a sense of bond just as strong as the one created when we, literally, helped clear the rubble of our country - hand in hand - a few months ago.
Policy makers can help in such causes by continuously monitoring and implementing strict actions, not just to punish the offenders but also to show gratitude towards those citizens who are respectful. Yes, they should hand out tickets and fine those who neglect the rules but they should also issue statements through phones, television and social media and introduce various incentives to thank those who have done their part.
I personally think that it would help to see them tackling problems not just with a sense of gusto but also with a sense of playful, tongue-in-cheek humor. How about following in the footsteps of the eccentric former politician of Columbia, Mr. Antana Mockus, who used mimes to control unruly traffic and pedestrians? Stunts like these are fun, encourage bonding and get the job done. During his time as Mayor, Mr. Mockus reduced traffic fatalities to less than half by employing comical silent figures to wag fingers at traffic offenders and give smiling thumbs up to the courteous and abiding citizens. The Nepal government could employ popular actors and comedians to do the same on occasions.
Apparently, the strongest of bonds are forged either on the face of a common enemy or in the face of shared laughter. While we cannot expect the earth to roar and shake every time we are in need of change, perhaps we can rely on humor to do the trick?