There is a growing consensus that a lasting peace in Nepal must ensure that all sides of this diverse country must be included in all aspects of change (for the better). There has been a general tendency to generalize, and this often leads to thoughts, deeds and statements that have hurt the sentiments of one section of society or the other. Along these lines, there is a tendency to think and believe that Nepal consists only of the hills and the plains. The part of Nepal that is beyond the Himalaya is often forgotten. In this issue of ECS we take a really close look at this amazing geography, the people, culture and food. For those who have travelled to the region over the past three decades, some things may come as a shock. For those who have been here all the time, change may simply not be fast enough.
Like all else in Nepal, and the world for that matter, Mustang is also changing. Recently a road that goes from Beni to the Tibet border has helped speed up the rate of this change. While some react to change with fear, others constantly remind us of the opportunities that come with change. To highlight these issues of change here and elsewhere in Nepal, there was an exhibition of photos put together by twelve Nepali photojournalists who told the stories of change through the lives of twelve unique Nepalis. A book was also launched and was timely titled “The Constant Change.” It is now available in the market. The effort is really commendable.
The whole of Nepal and definitely some remote valleys have always felt helpless in the face of the perceived notion of being “landlocked”. Somehow having access to the sea was a pre-requisite to development. Today roads, airports and more importantly the cell phone have helped break these “mental barriers “down. People are increasingly connected and this increasing connectively is being leveraged for trade and other economic activities that is not just helping improve the quality of life, but also putting a lot of new wealth in the hands of people in remote areas of Nepal. This is change. In the “good old days” while people in areas like Mustang only talked of agriculture, livestock and trade, there is a new conversation as the dealership and show room for a motorbike brand has been opened here. Change must be accepted. Change is constant.
In the coming months, the conversation around issues of climate change is going to pick up again here and globally. New York gets snow for Halloween and the Thai capital Bangkok still looks like a water theme park. Mustang has seen hail stones recently - something local people did not even recognize. There is a village in Mustang that has also moved permanently because their fresh water supply dried up. In our previous issue of ECS, we reported on the Great Himalayan Trail (GHT). There is now preparation underway to organize a celebrity trek along the GHT. The idea is to put this trail on the world map. The campaign will also look at how the communities that lie on the trail and near to it can become “climate change smart”.
Once again we are confident you will enjoy this issue of ECS; and in the month ahead, whatever you do, please take time out for the Nepali way.