Monday, October 24, 2011

Can NRNA be Nepal’s development partner?

Non-Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA) fifth Global Conference concluded with a commitment to support Nepal Investment Year 2012-13, the government’s ambitious campaign to attract investment in the country.
Every two years, the Non-Resident Nepalis (NRNs) meet in Kathmandu for global conference that concludes with a declaration. Going through the declarations from the first global conference to the fifth, they seem redundant as they are all promises, which have forced the people to believe that they are not better than our politicians.
After eight years of waiting, some section of the society has already started thinking that the NRNs are a pampered lot. Going by the association’s last eight years’ performance, they have been repeating almost the same promises 'ritually' every two years.
This year’s global conference also ended with a 17-point declaration that vows to increase investment in energy, infrastructure, skill trainings and technology sectors — the most debated issues since last eight years.
The government and private sector both wanted NRNs skills, experiences and technology, if not capital, transferred to the country. But in the last eight years, apart from some individual investments, there seems no visible and transparent investment from them let alone skill, technology and experience transfer.
Lately, the migrant Nepali workers in Gulf and Malaysia have become yet another debate among the NRNs. Though, it is not a new debate in the association that claims they have three million members around the globe as a Nepali – who spends over 180 days outside the country is a NRN – the million dollar question is are the migrant Nepali workers in Gulf and Malaysia NRNs?
Are those faces in the global conferences and in the NRNA executive committee represent these Nepali blue colour job holders, who are working in 50 degree Celsius in the Middle East desert to send back home their earnings so that their kids can get education and elderly parents have a roof on their head? Can the NRNs take credit for the remittance that has been the lifeline for the country in the last one decade?
The government's failure in creating employment at home has forced unemployed youths to the Arabian Desert and Malaysian jungles as blue-colour job holders but they have become pawn in the power struggle of the association.
Most of the faces, who claim themselves NRNs are the first generation NRNs and represent white colour job holders, who are surviving every day on pay check to pay check basis, except for a few exceptions. They also have their own struggle in foreign land. The association should be bold and not keep the people confused. It should accept the reality that they have only a couple of members, who can really invest in Nepal.
The Nepali Diaspora since its second global conference in Kathmandu has been promising of setting up a fund to invest in Nepal, but has not yet been able to do so. Either they now walk their talk or redefine themselves. It’s never too late to accept the reality. The dilemma shows that the NRNs are themselves a confused lot.
Are they a charity organisation or development partners of Nepal? It’s time they start introspection as they are going to hold the sixth global conference in 2013 that makes the association a decade old.
Some of the NRNs have also tied the dual citizenship issue with investment, which is yet another blunder. There is no relationship between citizenship and investment. Nepal is in need of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for its economic development and there can be no better opportunity for the NRNs to take advantage.
Doing Business 2012 report published by the World Bank and IFC last week has also revealed that doing business in Nepal is much easier than in other South Asian countries but the NRNs are claiming that the investment climate in Nepal is not suitable for them to invest.
One can invest in Nepal without dual citizenship too. Their own leaders Upendra Mahato and Jiba Lamichhane are some of the examples that without dual citizenship also one can invest, if one is 'seriously' willing to and has the capacity to become a partner of motherland’s development.
During the last global conference, the NRNs agreed on Identity Card, which according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been distributed to less than 1,000 NRNs. If ministry has to be believed, the NRNs are not interested in taking the Identity Card, which they themselves agreed two years ago.
The NRNA came into existence committed to streamline their energy and resources for the transformation of Nepali society. From the nationality point of view both Nepali nationals and foreign nationals of Nepali origin are regarded as NRNs to mobilise knowledge, skills, capital and other resources in their disposal in the socio-economic development of Nepal in cooperation with government and society of Nepal. It has also aimed at promoting Nepali culture and tourism abroad, apart from facilitating the foreign investment in Nepal.
Hope the sixth NRNA global conference in Kathmandu in October 2013 will either redefine the association as a development partner of Nepal and translate its slogan of the fifth conference, ‘Our Network Our Identity: Prosperous Nepal’, or accept itself as a philanthropic organisation.
It has the sole right to redefine itself and it has to, before others do.


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