Government is not to blame for everything and not the answer for all the problems in Nepal. Although I’ve not been happy with the people running our government for a long time, respective authorities in media and journalism should also adhere to higher standards and aspirations. I want my country to be in a better situation and read inspiring headlines rather than the recent Times feature: No End in Sight for Nepal’s Political Dysfunction.
It’s extremely depressing to read headlines like the one above from abroad. After getting frustrated for some time, I then take a step back and try to think about it logically and face a dilemma. From one perspective, I see Nepal’s quandary as a chicken and an egg problem. In one hand, thousands of individuals who have left Nepal and pursued their education abroad, the prospect of going back to Nepal and pursuing a career and earning a good salary is bleak. On the other hand, the knowledge and experience gained by these individuals abroad can help the country tremendously. But what should come first? Should the government first provide the best prospects for someone to earn a modest living or should people educated abroad return to Nepal and drive growth in the private sector?
We all agree there is great potential in Nepalese educated locally and abroad. How can we motivate and inspire the next generation of youth to pursue their dreams in Nepal or have them contemplate about returning to Nepal after completing their education abroad? What can be the incentive for some of the brightest students and professionals to return to Nepal? Nationalism cannot be the only reason.
This debate can go on for a long time. The brain drain phenomenon is a national problem. If we keep exporting some of our brightest minds to go overseas and pursue their dreams but never give them incentive to come back, then the country faces a bleak future due to a lack of human talent.
At the Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Forum, I listened to Muhammad Yunis, founder of Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner who said that governments structurally are not innovative thus the private sector has to take the lead. Innovation is a key element of job creation and industry growth and its basic economics that people will go where they are opportunities. Thus the responsibility of attracting and encouraging talented Nepalese living abroad cannot be only left to the government. Equally, the big responsibility should be placed on our national media. The national media broadcasts what is happening in Nepal to the rest of the world and thus plays a key role in presenting the country’s internal workings to the Nepalese living abroad. Their news coverage and subjects covered can significantly impact how Nepalese living abroad view their native country.
News organizations can indeed help tremendously to counter the brain drain phenomenon. News organizations should shift their focus from mostly political news to highlighting innovative and growing industries in Nepal and occupations that cater to the educated Nepalese diaspora. I frequently visit national Nepali news sites and am drained with political news. I would like to read more about the state of the economy, entrepreneurship, eco-tourism, inspiring media and sports figures etc. By covering a wide array of topics including politics will not only help the news organization grow their market but also provide an overall state of the country and can encourage people living abroad to think about returning to Nepal.
So, the media as powerful as it is has to refocus its audience and cater more to the Nepalese diaspora. Then can we start envisioning a future where a reverse brain drain takes place in Nepal. We cannot continue to export our biggest asset: human capital and not provide incentives for them to return home.