In Search of Wisdom: Dreaming of an Egalitarian Society

Diversity has to be one of the most remarkable aspects of the natural world and that of a society as it is the principle constituent of its vibrancy and colorfulness. However, there is an aspect of this diversity that is artificially introduced through various practices of social and cultural discriminations. Prejudiced actions of humans treat other people unfairly and create unjustly engineered diversity – a distressing, inhumane, colossally immoral and counterproductive kind. It inflicts a sense of humiliation in many while giving a sense of privilege to others. It is a great cause of disparities that lead to subjugation of one population under another and, therefore, to rebellion and counter-rebellion. They are severely damaging to the society, threat to peace, and obstacle to society in making use of its full potential.

Nepal’s centuries old feudal practices, in which ordinary people did not amount to much, discriminated people along various fronts. Scars of discrimination are everywhere, whether we look from economic point of view or along the lines of castes, ethnicity, culture, geographic regions, and gender. They have harmed the country both socially and economically by providing better opportunity to a small population while depriving others from realizing their human potential. After centuries of such practices, discrimination has become the paramount feature of Nepalese society. Therefore, correcting the entrenched practices of social exclusion and building a society that provides “equal agency for all” has become a necessity in Nepal irrespective of how imposing this ill practice may appear. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: Where is the Great Nation?

Published in: | | | | Archived Version

“The essential element of a nation is that all its individuals must have many things in common. … having done great things together and wishing to do more” – Ernest Renan, 19th Century French Philosopher

The constantly played politics of nationalism in Nepal is becoming complicated and is necessitating the search for new meanings and definitions of “nation” and “nationalism”. Unless guided by meaning and a deeper understanding, we would be ruled by our passions and emotions only and be heading to ever uncertain territories. The old nationalism that solely concentrated on anti-India and anti-China sentiments is not able to reflect the need of time as it does not address the identity, space, and rights sought by previously marginalized groups within Nepal. It also does not address our increasing connectedness with the world as well as the growing involvement of external players in the domestic politics of Nepal. Therefore, to survive in a rapidly evolving world, it has become important for us to find the meaning of a great nation. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: What Binds Us?

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“The essential element of a nation is that all its individuals must have many things in common. … having done great things together and wishing to do more …” – Ernest Renan, 19th Century French Philosopher

When I face questions related to human behaviors, I find it simpler to seek the answers in the context of interactions I observed in the village where I grew up. Because the interactions in complex societies have many layers of causal relationships, I find it difficult to discern what caused what. However, I find that the human interactions in simpler societies are less layered and more discernible. My village, therefore, remains the most inspiring place on earth for me and it never stops shaping my thoughts even after having left it for long. This happened just recently when some friends asked me to think of the ways that could potentially save Nepal from being fragmented. I observed the village in search of an answer to a question: “What is the most potent glue for binding one human with another?”

I mentally enacted my most recent visit of this summer to my village to identify the force that has been attaching me to that place. My parents have long departed; most of my relatives have left the place; the cattle herd, which I used to go after, was not there; there was one buffalo in my brother’s barn instead of 6-8 we were used to; most of my childhood friends were not there; and the most recent development was a small electric plant that lighted an 11w bulb in each house. But I noticed that many things had remained the same. The village had no motor road; the same mist was rising from the valley and disappearing in the sky; the same rain was pouring from the cloud; Dhaireni and Raniban were still looking towards the Northern sky; the rain soaked Peepal leaves shone as intently as before on the summer sun; the people gave me the same smile as they did three decades ago. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: Can Greed Equate to Corruption?

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In my previous article on corruption, “Where Does Corruption Live?“, I had concluded that corruption lives in power. After reading my article, a friend came to a different conclusion: “The answer is simple. Corruption lies in greed.” This conclusion not only contradicted my position but also seemed quite reasonable. However, further thought led me to believe that power is, in fact, the right answer. Another friend asked whether in addition to power, other factors like behavior, value systems, and education also played a role in making a person corrupt. This article is written to advance this debate one step further.

I define corruption as human actions that stem from the lack of ethics and undermine human institutions and human relations. Corruption can take as many forms as there are types of human institutions and human relations. Acts such as bribery, fraud, extortion, falsehood, nepotism, deceit, vote rigging, calculated neglect, abuse, and cheating are some examples. These acts are used to extort unethical gain for some at the expense of others. In this process, power is abused or discharged inappropriately. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: Can We Clean Minds?

Published in: | | | | | | SouthAsianMedia.Net |

“The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.“ – John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-American Economist

In my last article “In Search of Wisdom: Where Does Corruption Live?”, I had concluded that “Corruption lives in Power.” Among the feedbacks I received, one reader asserted that the corruption does not live in power but rather lives in mind. He wrote that both corruption and power are the creation of our minds and, therefore, “Cleaning of mind is the one and only way to remove (corruption).” I consider this to be a flawed opinion but to many readers it must “sound right” because I have heard this opinion time and again from many well-meaning friends over the years. Spiritual friends are especially keen on projecting every failing or triumph of a human to the mind and forget to recognize other planes of projection. I am writing this article to dispel this confusion and to assert that the true value of an endeavor is in “being right” and not in “sounding right.” Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: Where does Corruption Live?

Authors note: This article was written in March 30, 2007 but had not been published. It is published in a hope that it is still relevant.

As I was entering into my high school years, a wave of political consciousness was catching the Nepalese society, which was under the shadow of the Panchayat regime. The carriers of this movement were the political workers who fed the young minds with books adapted to Nepali language from foreign publications and those written by Nepali authors. Books deemed illegal by the state were being circulated and read by people who hid them away from the watchful eyes of the state. Those books that I first encountered were “Monera Dekhi Manab Samma”, “Debasur Sangram”, and “Pachas Rupiyan ko Tamsuk”, written by Modnath Prashrit who had received a top literary award in Nepal a few years earlier for writing “Manav Mahakavya“. These books had greatly inspired me and the name Modnath got inscribed in my heart as a great philosopher to have been born on the soil of Nepal.

More than a decade had elapsed and I had moved onto other endeavors of studies when I was awoken by reading the news that Modnath had become the Minister of Education in Nepal. It was in the early 1990s and I was in Canada in pursuit of studies in engineering, but my memories of the high school days came vividly and I was happy for him and for Nepal. I thought that finally a literary figure and a true philosopher was coming to the helm of the most important ministry for contemporary Nepal. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: Where does Corruption Live?

Published in: | | | | | | | NepalAbroad

There was a popular book of jokes in Nepal called “Akbar Birbal Bilas”, which contained apparent conversations of wit and wisdom between Mughal emperor Akbar and his minister Birbal in the 16th century. This book had so much food for thought that I finished reading it quickly and remembered most of it for years. Although the accounts were likely fabricated, they discharge wisdom in an entertaining way, and one of those jokes titled “Where does Lust live?” inspired the writing of this article.

The meaning carried in that joke gives some profound idea to a thinking person in determining whether the national policies and laws meant to control crimes, and failings, brought by lust and sex are mere rhetoric or products of wisdom. Yet, the essence of the story is simple in that it succinctly “proves” that the lust lives in privacy. But to know this simple fact is profoundly beneficial for a parent, teacher, politician, and every concerned individual in the society. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom – In Defense of the “Non-Intellectual”

Published in: | | | | | | UnitedWeBlog | | TopSynergy – AlbertEinstein

The English-educated and Internet savvy Nepalese have started a number of mailing lists that pour emails at a rate that there are not enough hours in the day to read them all. Involved in these groups are some self proclaimed “intelligent” and “educated” cyber-friends who love to edify the self. Although they mostly do superficial and self-serving discussions on the name of the people and “the motherland”, still I go there to get some fodder for the brain when the mind wants a break from usual work. While doing so, I came across some pitiful emails proclaiming a survey about the “uneducated” and “unintelligent” politicians of Nepal. However, despite my strong grievances towards the failed leaders, I found the kind of criticism done by these propagandist friends to be in poor taste. Therefore, I would like to write some words in defense of those politicians and to point out the hollowness of the thoughts of our “intelligent” friends. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: The Power of Communities

While the local and global dynamics of society and economy are becoming increasingly complex, countries like Nepal are unable to expand the material and intellectual capacity of its citizens at a sufficient pace to cope with the changes. The elites and office bearers of Nepal are unable to deliver anything substantial that lasts, although they have always remained busy cooking a template of development to be dispersed from Singha Durbar. They keep on changing the template but it keeps on failing because it cannot factor the diversity in beliefs, values, knowledge, and skills of people and local social dynamics across the population. The craze for producing a bumper crop of development and progress seems to further exasperate the situation by setting its eyes on the elites of the country and the keepers of the international wealth who are at the top of the pyramid while utterly neglecting the bottom. I believe that the prosperity, progress, and happiness have eluded us for long because of this very inability of ours to recognize the true utility of the grassroots people and communities. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom Part III – The Ethics of Citizenship

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Nepal is known not only for its monsoon that pours water, hail and snow over its landscape but also for a monsoon of slogans, demands, and complaints that overwhelm the mindset of its populace. The effect of this second type of monsoon is such that every political player seems to be running for shelter and not thinking about strategies to tackle it. And those who leave Nepal for greener pastures seem to faithfully carry this mindset wherever they go and never get rid of it. A prime example of this is the issue of citizenship and voting rights floating abroad these days. Last month, I received more than two dozen emails requesting that I sign a petition to gain citizenship and voting rights for Nepalese living abroad. Since this has been portrayed as a high priority and hot issue, I like to add a few thoughts on this debate as a Nepali grazing in those green pastures. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: Logical Pitfalls of a System of Logic

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Although I scan the gist of happenings of Nepal through the headlines in the Internet, occasionally I venture into the content of the news. As I peeked through Budhabar weekly of Chaitra 07, 2063BS, I came across an interview with Nepal’s famous politician, Mohan Bikram Singh. I knew about him since my Tri-Chandra College days when I loved reasoning on anything and everything. I was more inclined to accept a false answer backed up by a logic than a true answer given without explanations. And around that time, I met some intelligent people who were inspired by Mohan Bikram and carried a culture of answering all questions with logic. And in any logic, you prove or disprove your theorem or theory based on the basis of explicit assumptions. In this regard, philosophy is not far from mathematics, which was a subject of my great interest. I loved this culture where a logical reasoning was required for believing or not believing anything. It took me years to figure the shortcomings of his school of thoughts.

In this interview, the interviewer has posed more than two dozen questions to Mohan Bikram with an intention of making him flounder a bit, but no where Mohan Bikram falls into that trap. He seems to answer all the questions with logic and reasoning. Logically speaking, his answers are brilliant and he deserves appropriate credit for his intellect. Continue reading

In Search of Wisdom: Where is the Vision?

A nation runs into danger when its rulers lose sight of their important responsibilities and get lost amidst the distractions born due to their preoccupation with power. When rulers cannot demonstrate their compassion to the citizens, the people become disenfranchised and they go in search of another ruler. This reality is amply demonstrated in the story of Mahabharata. But that the message does not seem to register in the mind of our leaders, the same story is repeating in Nepal!

As the Sanskrit word “duradarshi” implies, a visionary person is the one who can visualize the likely happenings of the future by looking through the dynamics of events of the past and the present. In doing so, he/she can take measures to increase the likelihood of desirable events while minimizing the undesirable events of the future. And, the people expect their leaders to be such. Continue reading