Nepali millennial dreamsNagarkot hill was buffeted by freezing minuscule hurricanes in the last afternoon of the year 1999.
Nagarkot hill was buffeted by freezing minuscule hurricanes in the last afternoon of the year 1999. An enterprising, tourism savvy young man named Hari Lama had organised a grand programme to celebrate the millennial zero moment over the hill.
He had invited people from as far as Japan and other South Asian countries to join what he called a youth festival. Initially, I declined Lama’s invitation saying I was not young enough to attend, having just crossed the age of 50.
But when the Japanese youth delegation, in their mid and late fifties, arrived, I accepted the invitation without qualms. There was one alarm—“those using computers could see them crash as we crossed the zero hour at midnight”.
I was very worried about that, because I had bought the first laptop of my life a few years ago when I was conducted research at Tokyo University on a book about the Japanese monk Ekai Kawaguchi who had visited Nepal and Tibet some 118 years ago from today; the book has been published since.
I saved whatever data I could, and was occupied with what algorithmic exercises I could manage. I took a sigh of relief when my computer crossed the zero moment without any cosmic algorithmic somersaults.
Towards the dawn of 2000 as a liquid sun spilled over the eastern horizon, we were convinced that we were entering a great and bright millennium.
Living in uncertainty
Patterns of Nepali’s millennial dreams were cast on a screen that did not show any definite patterns. It was like that for all the people of the earth, really.
A good question that resonates often is—how can you see the dreams for the century? But millennial dreams are either utopic or apocalyptic. We had neither. We saw simple dreams.
Though we have our own major and minor national calendars, we are conditioned to plan our millennial dreams in terms of the Gregorian calendar.
17 years is too short a time to measure the century, but we have begun to see our futurity in certain unmistakable terms.
The conundrums of the world have triggered my temporal memories. The first memory is that of the liminal Nagarkot night when people from all over Asia converged to see if they could create a bond of dreams.
Naturally, nobody knew what happened as people returned to their own microcosms to live with dreams bequeathed by their histories and created by what is called presentism. Some philosophers, especially the French, have written some good texts about presentism.
Chaos began to reign in the world, especially in Asia and Africa. Now the Europeans feel the effect of that as never before. Movements and suppressions pulled people out of their roots.
These disenfranchised people are moving over uncertain exilic spaces.
Britain left the European Union. News of Britain, where I went to University, and where most of my friends live, work, maintain contact with Nepal and produce important academic works, concerns me very much. America is seriously, and almost with stunning effect, discussing the very founding principles of the great democratic union.
Natural calamities have quadrupled. Humanity has been killing off more humans than all of the natural calamities put together. This is a stunning beginning of the century that we had ushered in with vague hopes that morning from the Nagarkot heights.
But the vagueness of those dreams were like paintings executed by artists that night with colours, pigments and figurality of space and humans.
But I feel more concerned when I think of what is happening to us. Our big neighbours sadden and even frighten us when we see them at loggerheads with each other.
It has become increasingly clear that our millennial dreams are shaped by geographical and political conditions. Even more importantly, they are shaped by ecological conditions.
The excessive rain and droughts show the huge uncertainties of the ecological conditions. Over 120 people have lost their lives in the flood. But importantly, the suffering they have endured and have been enduring, is very serious. As usual people have been doing their best at private levels.
Dr Govinda KC, who was fasting to death for medical reforms in the country, broke his 11th Satyagraha on the 23rd day, on August 26, 2017, so as to free the agitating doctors in his support; these doctors could then go to serve the disaster victims.
The famous modus operandi of Dr KC is that he has always reached out to the disaster-affected areas to serve the suffering people. He showed the same sentiments this time around too. But we can see a unique link between the good citizen’s efforts and the calamities that affect us in Nepal.
A few last words must be said about the Nepali millennial dreams. One important matter is that the dreams of a country are always a collective phenomenon. The state, the people and the creation of good conditions are necessary to fulfil the dreams.
Nepal’s future is full of difficulty and hardship. There are two indicators. First, the country is not well managed, and those whom the people trust for that purpose appear to be guided, it seems, neither by noble purposes nor by good political principles. Second, conditions that are beyond our control, like geo-political and global issues, can affect us very strongly.
There are more indicators that show how we can fulfil our millennial dreams, but it would be premature to discuss them. How we need to proceed in the coming years of the millennium is simple.
We should be guided by noble thoughts and good political principles. We should be honest about how we handle our economy and state of corruption. Good parties who have made great sacrifices in the past to come to this great political loktantric, or democratic, state should not be greedy about money.
Going to the lengths of making money at the cost of people’s health and the miserable conditions of the natural victims, including those affected by the earthquakes, will worsen and complicate things.
Please correct your paths and make it easy for all to come and work together for the fulfilment of the millennial dreams.