Understanding Phenomenon Of Nepali Exodus

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Every day, a massive crowd is spotted at Tribhuvan International Airport. The crowd comprises both those coming to Nepal and, in great numbers, those leaving the country in pursuit of lucrative jobs and better education. While the exodus of people is sometimes seen as the boon of globalisation, it nevertheless sparks the government’s inability to create more job opportunities. At a time when the economy is struggling and many businesses are on the brink of collapsing, foreign employment, at least, is helping the dejected Nepali eke out a living. It is beginning to dawn on the citizens that the lofty promises of politicians aren’t going to help them make ends meet. As a result, more and more people have started relying on the alternative opportunity, and also the ideal one at the moment — that is to board the plane and land wherever they can make more bucks than they do in Nepal.

Flawed system

The desperation of 12th-passed students to leave the country says a lot about the uncertainty looming in the Nepali air. They dread just imagining four-long years of a Bachelor’s degree at a Nepali university, only to remain jobless after graduation. What could be more ironic than the situation where citizens are fist-pumping upon getting a green signal to leave their motherland? How can the leaders in power sleep soundly after thrusting the country into this sorry state? Alone in 2023, more than one lakh students acquired NOC, a document issued by the government of Nepal that permits a person to study or work abroad. This hints at the shortcomings that Nepali universities have no interest in addressing. 

Recently, Tribhuvan University, the largest and oldest university in the country, rejoiced in the famous success of graduating the record number of students in its 49th convocation. While it was a milestone for the university, it might not hold the same for the graduated students. What lies ahead for them is a series of frustrations if they are to settle in the country itself. To apply for foreign jobs, their credentials don’t match the high standards set by foreign employers. A number of jobs offered by the government aren’t, ironically, enough for the dwindling number of graduate students. 

The spearheads of the university must know that this quantitative success will do little to camouflage the flawed system persisting over the years. Students at Tribhuvan University always complain of delayed results that affect their career while also subjecting them to anxiety, depression, and more severe disorders. Other universities such as Kathmandu University and Pokhara University are comparatively in good command with fewer resources to take care of. As the institution responsible for shaping the future of the largest number of students in Nepal, TU must not only address existing issues but also formulate and implement policies that encourage students to reconsider the allure of studying abroad.

Not every Nepali student can afford to continue their studies without doing part-time jobs on the side. Middle-class families expect their children to start earning while also continuing their studies. In the jobless market of Nepal, how many students will get a part-time job? And even if they do, will it cover their own expenses? The money they earn never serves the familial needs, for it gets consumed covering their own expenditure. That is when a wave of frustration sweeps through the young population. There’s no system yet for the hourly payment of workers. The very reason why Nepali students see no future in Nepal is the low wage rate accompanied by delayed payment. The challenges have escalated to a point where the students’ families have sold their properties to send the children overseas. The minimum wage rate in Australia stands at 21.38 Australian dollars per hour, a far cry from what people in Nepal earn. That is enough money to make them independent. Strong economic security, lucrative job opportunities, and effective labour laws lure the Nepali students to countries like Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK, among others.

Lacklustre response

With an increasing mass departure every year and the government’s lacklustre response to regulate the crisis, the path ahead is doom and gloom. The growing attraction towards foreign countries drains the Nepali colleges. Let’s not be pessimistic and search the room for optimism. Remittance has always been one of the biggest sources to contribute to the economy. But what per cent of money do the students contribute that comes to Nepal in the form of remittance? Students going for overseas education to countries like the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK spend a lot on their education and travel. Upon graduation, they are financially sound, secured and ready to apply for the Green card, granting them citizenship in their host country.

The reluctance to return to politically unstable and economically crippled nation, whose situation is worsening, is understandable. While those with a strong sense of nationalism might return, the government must convincingly channel these competent resources into strategic positions. The chances of majority of Nepali returning to Nepal is severely low given the provisions for green card holders in well-developed countries. With their families settled abroad, their contributions to Nepal dwindle, impacting every aspect of the country. Eventually the flow of money diminishes, leading to a halt in their investments and tax contributions, all of which go into the coffers of foreign governments. This phenomenon tells that the Nepali government is handing over the skilled resources to the benefit of foreign countries. If we assess all these factors, we can easily answer who’s on the losing side.

(Gautam is a Pokhara-based freelance writer)

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