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Nepalese are good at it. They are probably the best at this game of “pretending.” We pretend that we have a democracy. We pretend that online news sites are run by journalists, or if someone is running a TV show, he must be a journalist. We pretend that Nepal is urbanized because we are full of municipalities. We pretend that the political parties represent the good of the people and the nation. We pretend that people hold the sovereignty. We pretend that democracy is the solution to all the problems we have. We pretend that working abroad is going to develop Nepal, and we also pretend that celebrities are smart. We pretend that India is our friend, and we pretend that China is going to look out for our good.
Nepal government pretended for decades that sending labor abroad to get remittance was going to be the best thing for Nepal. It did not even give a second glance to all those millions of Nepalese from the Far Western region that go to India for work. We also pretended that we would not have any issue with many Indians only viewing Nepalese either as “Bahadur”, a security guard, or a Kancha, a hotel worker. Uttar Pradesh and Delhi areas are full of Nepalese doing those menial labors, and the Kanchhis in the Indian brothel do not bring any repute to our nation. We pretend we have a relationship of “roti” and “beti.” We pretend India is a big brother, yes but like a Duryodhan. The leaders pretend it to be a Ram.
Pretending is in Nepalese culture. We pretend we understand things that we do not. The pretending culture is causing serious consequences to our nation but we keep pretending that all will be well. The current corona situation has become deadly because of this pretend mentality that we are comfortable with. The government, totally inept in its governing but faced with the deadliest virus for humanity, pretended they are doing a great job. So, they pretended to be serious and put the country on lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, hand washing, face masks, and the whole nine yards. In the name of protecting the villagers, they prevented people returning home from entering Nepal. That was also a pretend because people were filtering in day and night.
The biggest pretend was the quarantines. They announced the number of people in quarantine, here, there, in this city, in that Pradesh, in this border, and all that. But this pretend quarantine is now spreading Covid-19 with vengeance. By not really taking seriously the harm that could come, they just hurled people into a confined space. The result now is evident. Just to give an example, let me take the case of Pradesh 5 Butwal area. The quarantine there is overcrowded. Basically, the local government put all the people into a school and left them without further observation or care, treating them like dogs and overlooking all the directives set for quarantines. In Kapilvastu, 2 journalists have tested positive. The quarantines were only in name. Pretend.
In such a situation, it is only a matter of time before nature takes its course. We can imagine that if even a single person is infected, given time, more people quarantined in such a manner would become future statistics. In four days, one person has died and 23 people have been found to be infected. In Kapilvastu, Nawalparasi, and other places there are reported to be approximately 14,000 in quarantines that lack everything—food, sanitation practice, social distancing and all other guidelines.
The official admits that such quarantines could become the corona bomb, yet they are pretending that we are helpless to do anything about it. Imagine the situation when 2-3 hundred thousand more people are expected to arrive from India. They would all have to be in quarantines that will be worse than the current ones. Given that hundreds even fled from the quarantine in Nepalgunj, we can imagine how they would be deteriorating the situation in the coming days. Is there even a way to know the true numbers when there are not even enough testing kits that are required to test all the suspected ones or arrivals from India?
In eastern Nepal, there are not even quarantines. Since people from India continue to pour in, they are resorting to something called “holding centers.” In Sunsari and Jhapa, there are 10 such holding centers. There are no spaces in the quarantines there. 33 people were found to be infected only in Jhapa. Since most of the people infected in Nepal are those arriving from India, pretty soon, Nepal’s infection number could amaze the world.
Nepal government announced 30 new infections today taking the total to 487. By the way, things are going, after two months we will still be announcing the number of infected people. By then it would have reached thousands. Doctors have warned that such living in proximity and sharing things would in time be more dangerous. That is the reality of the quarantines. But we are pretending that it will do the trick.
We are pretending that the pandemic will just go away. That’s right. We are just pretending to be decent human beings. When are we going to stop pretending, and call spade a spade?