If you’re a student in Nepal, you’ve probably heard a lot about rural development. You’ve studied about it in your school, you’ve taken extensive Social Studies exams on it, and you’ve memorized pages and pages of drivel written on it by so-called experts. In fact, if someone asked you to write an extensive article on rural development, you could probably churn out an entire thesis by the next day!
However, if you’re really honest with yourself, with all that knowledge in your head, what have you really done for the rural development of your country? I asked myself this very question and the answer was: Nothing. So far, I have done nothing to further the development of my nation. All my thoughts, all my actions, all my achievements, and all my failures, they have all been selfish and inconsiderate.
Even now, if you asked me what my plans after B.E. are, I’d tell you how I’m probably going to apply to a foreign university for my Masters, and how I’m probably going to start my own business, become a successful expert in my field, followed by a whole myriad of sentences containing the words “I” and “my”. Moreover, having talked to a lot of my friends, seniors and juniors, and having understood the trend from years and years of data, I feel confident in telling you that I represent the average IT student in Nepal.
And then I stop; I stop and I stare at the horror of that last paragraph. If that is really what the average IT student of Nepal only cares about, where is this country headed? We’re already lagging behind the developed nations of the world by a couple of decades as far as technology is concerned. How is that gap going to get any smaller if all the technology experts in the country fly away at the slightest opportunity, and never come back? When are the rural areas of Nepal going to stop being rural?
My next instinct is to get defensive. “We’re just technology students. How can we bring any sort of development in rural areas, which by definition are devoid of basic amenities? How can we teach an illiterate farmer to surf the internet? How can we build hospitals and schools where there are none? How can we bring any change at all?”.
This is when I start thinking, really thinking. Maybe we can’t teach the farmer to surf the internet, but what if we built a software which teaches little children to read and write, and made efforts to bring computers into every home? Wouldn’t that help the next generation of those areas?
What if we connected each rural home to the internet, and made tele-medicine accessible? Wouldn’t that improve the overall health status of the villagers?
What if we helped connect the old farmers to their children staying in cities or even abroad? Wouldn’t that bring some joy to their lives?
What if we made information about better farming practices available to the farmers at the click of a mouse button? Wouldn’t that help them grow better crops?
That’s when the charade falls apart; when I realize that it’s not really impossible to bring at least some form of development to these rural areas with the help of technology. I remember that there are people like Mahabir Pun, who have actually done their level best and brought a significant amount of change to the rural areas using technology.
Why is it then that we can’t do it? What’s stopping us from uniting to bring a technological revolution to the rural areas of our beloved motherland? The reason is simple: we’re selfish and insecure. We only care about ourselves and our families. Our future, our kids, our problems; our whole world revolves around our own selves. Never do we just stop and think about where our country is headed, about what we can do for Nepal.
Finally, I have realized that the development of Nepal is in my hands. Yes, it’s in my hands, and in yours. It’s in the hands of every Nepali alive. This is our country; nobody is going to come here and develop it for us. We need to stop blaming the government, because we ourselves are responsible for who we put in governing positions. We need to stop blaming the country, because we ourselves are a part of this country. We need to set aside our selfishness and work together to bring the light of development to our rural areas.
If we don’t do it, no one will. One Mahabir Pun is not enough.
(This was my winning entry in the LOCUS Blogging Competition 2013.)