--BY MADAN LAMSAL
All of you must have heard about the American Dream. Since the American people dared to dream this dream more than a century ago, a lot has been said and done about it. Different people have defined it differently but I think the American Dream is basically based on the belief that anyone, regardless of where they are born or what class they are born into, can attain their own version of success in a society in which upward mobility is possible for everyone.
However, this small piece is not about the great American Dream. Rather, it’s about the dreams of the Nepali people – the Nepali Dream!
Nepal is perhaps the only country in the world where every citizen can freely dream of what they want. Right from their childhood, the Nepalis go to school only if they are able to and willing. Otherwise, they don’t. But there is nothing to worry about, as no one can stop them from dreaming of holding big positions in the country later even if they were never schoolkids!
From time to time, the great leaders talk about employment to the unemployed. Therefore, right from childhood, Nepalis start dreaming of being employed. And that’s why some become Khalasis (helpers on public transport) and drivers, while others join the brick kilns in their bid to be employed. Similarly, some Nepalis start encroaching upon the footpaths to sell vegetables or clothes, while others encroach upon riverbanks and build their houses there. Some become thieves while others become pickpockets. Some enter the black market while others become loan sharks. Some dream even bigger – directly looting the state coffers! Many of these dreamers are able to make their dreams come true. Nothing prevents anyone from realising their dreams - any kind of dream. Rather, you will find several helping hands here which are ever ready to help you realise your dreams.
For example, if you wish to go abroad for employment, the labour ministry, foreign employment department, manpower companies and police all are too ready to help you. It’s totally a different matter that they realise their own dreams while helping you realise yours! However, it would be better if you didn’t dream of starting an industry. Various organisations such as the Department of Industry, Investment Board etc which are supposed to help you open industries do exist. But don’t ever expect any help from them; they don’t do that. Rather, they try their best to kill your dream. But again, that’s for your own good. Maybe you don’t know it but they do know that starting an industry in Nepal is inviting unnecessary hassles.
Some sons of the soil start dreaming of becoming policemen so that when they guard the chowks, aisles and business centres in the cities, they can illegally collect cash. Many of them dream of landing high positions such as police inspector, DSP, SP etc and they eventually succeed in grabbing these big positions by bribing those concerned. With big positions, there are chances of big returns. But you are definitely going to need a bit of courage and the backing of a political network. Otherwise, before you could recover what you spent to buy those big positions, you could get your transfer letters and you'd fail to realise your dream!
Some people start dreaming of becoming politicians right from their childhood. But their guardians nip such dreams in the bud because they fear that their children might follow in the wrong footsteps of politicians like BP Koirala and Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and become like them! However, when they find their children acting like the present day politicians, they are reassured that they will fulfill the family’s dream by selling dreams to others!
Many Nepalis, right from the moment when they start remembering things, start dreaming of becoming government employees by passing the Public Service Commission tests so that they can enjoy a regular flow of under-the-table money! But this dream doesn’t materialise for many. Then they start dreaming of getting jobs in the private sector. But because of the historic recession in the economy, their dreams fade away like colours on the television when there is a bad network connection!
Neither are you taxed nor have to spend on electricity to dream. That’s why even a rookie journalist starts dreaming of becoming the press advisor to a minister or even the prime minister. And, whether he deserves it or not, even a subba, after befriending a big politician, starts dreaming of becoming a secretary or at least someone as influential as a secretary. Similarly, even the petty thieves, pimps and land mafia start dreaming of becoming a lawmaker, a minister or even the prime minister.
For that, they either first start a stone crusher plant, or become a member of a trade union or the union of a government college and begin their careers by chanting political slogans. Then within a few years, they become regional level leaders by rising up the ward, city, and province-level ladder. Then they start gathering youths in the political rallies of their parties and collecting donations which they split between themselves and the party. Then they become a lawmaker and later a minister and directly start dreaming of becoming the prime minister or the president.
Dreaming is not bad in itself. However, many of those beings who spend their lives dreaming of becoming the prime minister end up yearning to become a political pimp or an advisor! Still, life becomes a lot easier for such people when they get the chance to ride cars meant for development projects as if they were their private cars, or if they can make sure that they get government contracts or attractive allowances and other expenses after being appointed as members to various committees and boards.
If there is any freedom other than the freedom to stand on your two legs and pee or spit anywhere you like then it is the freedom to dream. Millions of people spend their whole lives waiting for their small and petty dreams to come true. Some people dreamed of bringing democracy, republicanism etc to the country and these dreams did come true. But as it turns out, the republic fulfilled the dreams of only a few. Many more dreams are still hovering around finding food, clothing and shelter. When there are no barriers to dreaming, why are people not being able to dream big? Have Nepalis forgotten the poem ‘What's a target for, but to fly and touch the moon!” by their Great Poet?