-My opinion
Last year, I became a member of NRNA.  As a member, I received a ballot with a long list of candidates.  Each candidate had a statement about her or his candidacy and her or his campaign promise.  I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of candidates and their hyperbolic statements.  While some were short, most looked like a manifesto.  And some were written in Nepali, making them even harder to read.  Let me explain.

It’s not that I don’t read Nepali, but I am not used to reading it on a daily basis.  I have been out of the country of my birth for more than 50 years and seldom do I read Nepali, let alone write it.  So naturally it takes a long time for me to read a passage written in Nepal.  When I read a long page my eyes begin to tear.  So I wish some candidates who thoughtfully chose to write their statement in Nepali had applied a bit of restraint to their unbridled thoughts.  If I wanted to read every candidate’s statement, I really needed to allocate several hours of my time.  I did read a few of them albeit with difficulty; but they pretty much sounded the same to me.  No one had fresh ideas.

I have lived in the U.S. for more than 40 years and have seen many Nepali associations being born right before my eyes.  As the population of Nepalis in the U.S. has grown exponentially within the last decade, it’s imperative to form organizations that cater to their needs.  After all, human beings are social animals and they need support from each other.  NRNA is therefore a natural growth.  I attended one meeting in its formative stage and have occasionally followed its progress.  But I am not totally satisfied with the trajectory in which it’s heading.  It seems to me that much of NRN’s agenda have been to push for issues that promote business here or in Nepal.

What’s wrong with that model?

Not every NRN is a businessman or a businesswoman.  Many are in the labor force.  Some are students.  Some are just retired, and in the next 20 years more will be in that category.  So the composition of the Nepali diaspora is getting broader like any other diaspora.  So why so much emphasis on the business issues as if NRNs of other sectors don’t exist?

Dual citizenship, entrepreneurial endeavors, investment in Nepal, and importation of Nepali goods to the U.S. has so far been the only agenda of NRNA and NCC.  Many candidates seem to echo the slogan “once a Nepali, always a Nepali,” but only two, candidates have come to the defense of Nepali art and culture.  What is it that gives us the identity as Nepali?  The answer is: Nepali art and culture.  The dress we wear, the food we eat, and the products we make are part of our artistic tradition, history and culture.  If we don’t have them, we have no identity as Nepali.  So shouldn’t NRNA or NCC make these issues part of their agenda?

It’s for these reasons I stayed away from NRNA for all these years.  But no more.  It doesn’t mean that I intend to run for an office.  No, I will never run for an office.  But I will speak my mind when and where I must.  If the candidates running for a position want the voters to read their statements, they must answer the following questions.

  1. What experience do you bring to run for the position?
  2. What are your credentials and what are your accomplishments?
  3. What do you hope to achieve during your tenure?

I don’t need to know more than this.  Please don’t emulate American politicians with hyperbolic campaign promises.  They may mean something to others, but not to me.  I belong to many professional, social and cultural organizations, and they ask their candidates to answer those three questions in 500 or less words.  That’s how they elect their officers.  Can we not follow the same format here?

We live in America; that is why we call ourselves NRNs.  The language of communication should be English.  Why must we make Nepali our primary language?  We are not in Nepal, and we are not representing Nepali citizens in Nepali politics.  We speak Nepali at home and with our friends during cultural, religious and social events and gatherings.  Isn’t that enough?  Anyone who pretends to be a Nepali nationalist appearing in a Nepali uniform, making his or her statement in Nepali and speaking like a politician, will not get my vote.  Some critics will certainly accuse me of Nepal bashing because I am not patriotic.  That’s far from the truth.

Nepal is my birthplace and Nepali is my mother tongue. But I live in the United States, and I am a U.S. citizen.  When I became a U.S. citizen, I took an oath to uphold the constitution of the adopted land.  I love the country of my birth, but I can’t be patriotic of both lands.  So it’s not a matter of love or hate or even a matter of patriotism.  It’s about being practical.  As the old saying goes, “While in Rome, act like a Roman.”  While we live in America, we should use the English language in organizational matters.  That’s all.