Promoting Nepal in India

Despite being so close and sharing a border there is an unimaginably high level of misunderstanding about THE HIGHEST DEMOCRACY in THE LARGEST DEMOCRACY…Nepal should do something to promote itself among Indians.

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

promoting nepal in india kathmandu post 8aug10
click to enlarge

Many Nepalis living out of Nepal face one common challenge: how to effectively tell foreigners about their country. Many in the world are completely unaware about Nepal which makes the job all the more difficult. The country of Mt. Everest, they have to tell. Another: It’s in Asia, sandwiched between India and China. Millions of Nepalis living in India don’t have to geographically pinpoint Nepal to Indians as they are aware about the location but that doesn’t make the task any easier. Despite being so close and sharing a border there is an unimaginably high level of misunderstanding about Nepal among Indians.

Some of those misunderstandings are based on rumours and hearsay (all Nepalis smoke pot) while others are created by the Indian mainstream media that is most of the times frighteningly immature and trivial when it comes to covering Nepal.

That doesn’t mean Nepalis have better understanding of India and Indians either. But the lack of understanding among Indians holds more weight because India is big and, more importantly, it plays important role in key Nepali affairs.

“Please don’t feel bad but what I have heard is,” one middle-aged Indian had told me some months ago, “Nepalis put fake Indian currency on their banks, come here in India and withdraw genuine currency from ATMs.” Astonishingly, his tone was serious. I had to explain about some aspects of Indo-Nepal relations for about 20 minutes before he finally said, “Yes, I also think it’s a ridiculous suggestion.”

It is Nepali students in India who mostly have to deal with Indians ignorant about Nepal and educate them. They are relatively best positioned to defend their country in arguments than other Nepalis who come to India and engage in various forms of employment—mostly non-skilled and lowly paid jobs. This class suffers through humiliation knowingly or unknowingly without an idea of how to educate co-workers or be proactive in disseminating information about Nepali society. For them humiliation comes as part of their jobs. Most importantly, they are neither articulate enough nor in a position to assert themselves and fight for their dignity through arguments.

For students it’s a different situation. They have hardly anything to lose.

Tens of thousands of Nepali students study in India—right across the country. They are more likely to meet educated and influential Indians (some with misinformation about Nepal) all over the country. That is why these students, not the diplomats, are the real ambassadors of the Himalayan republic in the world’s largest democracy.

Related links:
1. Face Value: Being a Nepali in India

Only a person with a flat nose and, I hate to use the word here but I must, “chinky” eyes, passes as a Nepali for many Indians…..Going by their reactions and comments, I have come to the conclusion that only those with Mongolian features are considered Nepali in India….I seriously try to explain to them the diverse nature of Nepali society that lives at different altitudes, eats varieties of foods, speaks many languages and sport different looks. Continue reading Promoting Nepal in India