Kunda Dixit is the publisher of Nepali Times and author of several books. In his blog East West | Travel Blog, he chronicles his experiences while wandering across Nepal and abroad.
Here is Kunda Dixit’s speech on March 9, 2013 to the graduating A-Level class of St Xavier’s College Kathmandu.
Our job as journalists is to report on the speeches of politicians, not to give speeches ourselves. Maybe the real reason you invited me here is because I am a double graduate of St Xaviers. After passing out from St Xaviers High School in Godavari, I went on to college in St Xavier’s Bombay.
After getting my first masters in microbiology, I decided that injecting laboratory rats was not what I wanted to do so I got another masters in journalism from Columbia University. After that I worked for BBC Radio in New York and became a foreign correspondent covering conflicts across Asia. In 1997, I returned to Nepal to start our publications.
I soon found out that covering a war in your own country is completely different from covering other people’s wars. Unlike war correspondents covering battles, we had to learn to look for the roots of conflict. The seeds of war are laid in peace time, the precursors of violence lie in prevailing inequality, injustice and intolerance.
But as we have seen in the past seven years, the end of the war hasn’t meant peace. We struggle to find leaders with vision, integrity and statesmanship and a system of governance that will ensure equity and justice into the future.
The favorite Nepali past-time is not to gamble at cards, it is to find nasty things to say about each other. Of course, not all Nepalis are like that but the loudest, most privileged, best educated and most well off among us just can’t bear to see fellow-Nepalis get ahead.
We overlook the visible faults in ourselves but spend endless hours dissecting the imagined shortcomings of fellow-Nepalis. Just look at politicians, they can’t say or do anything that gives us hope—all they do day in and day out is run each other down. And we in the media spread the cynicism by treating politics as one big endless quarrel.
This obsession with finding fault is self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling and self-defeating. It is this refusal to see any goodness in our own kind that I think is at the heart of Nepal’s present crisis. We love to whine and we love to play victim, it is as if we want Nepal to fail so that our own catastrophic predictions will be proven right. It is as if we need Nepal to stay poor because that would give us the excuse we need to emigrate, or to do nothing.
Read the whole speech at East West | Travel Blog by Kunda Dixit.