The vitality of Kathmandu’s inner city, such as Thamel, Jyatha, Kamalakhsi, Ason, Bangemudha, and Bhedasingh, in the decade of 2030 B.S. and the enthusiasm and optimism with which locals conducted their businesses and provided services to tourists has now withered down and become stale. Now, these places look like they are deep in grief. The Maoist movement had the biggest role to play in bringing about such a situation of funereal peace. Thirty years of corrupt politics has put Kathmandu’s development and businesses in the shade. The fact that this country itself is now no more a preferred choice for tourists is due to its present condition. The tourism industry that withered because of the Maoist war has not yet been able to blossom. Even 15 years after the Maoists entered peaceful mainstream politics, its effects continue to be felt.
The earthquake of 2070 B.S. and the current pandemic have also left development behind. Despite all these hurdles, the time has come for renewed efforts. Commercial activities have to be revived, even if a pacemaker needs to be placed in sick Kathmandu’s heart. The nation’s capital has to be rejuvenated. Ailing Kathmandu has to be made whole again. Kathmandu has a unique commerce of its own. Carpets, pashmina, handicrafts—all produced by human labor—are already there, just as tourism is— now an environment in which they can bloom once again has to be created. The metropolis has sufficient resources to do this. The currently available resources are either being misused in unproductive sectors, or they are just gathering dust.
There are also substantial possibilities in education. Students from abroad can be brought here for medical and other education. Right now, this is being discouraged instead of promoting it. There is similar potential for medical tourism, where health services and tourism can go together. Nepal can be sold as a naturally air-conditioned destination package for medical treatment and travel at the same time. The mayor of Kathmandu can play a big role in promoting this sector. Similarly, Kathmandu has made 16 sister cities in 12 countries in the past years, but whether this fact has been left rotting in the files, or whether rats have eaten it, nobody knows. Many kinds of work can be done by making use of sister city relationships.
Work is the source of an individual’s way of life. It is necessary to support small and medium industries and start-ups in a country like ours, where the government is unable to create enough employment. Many jobs can be created through even small capital, but with big efforts. The metropolis can contribute a lot for the youth who are full of enthusiasm, have certificates in their hands, and have creativity running through their minds, but are unable to find a good environment here and are eagerly planning to go abroad. For this, expertise, experience, and research are more important than just financial resources. It will not be a big burden for the metropolis to encourage enthusiastic youths towards commercial activities, train them, and make the necessary legal and financial arrangements. This work can be done by establishing a start-up with low investment.
We will be walking in the opposite direction if we are to dream of Nepal developing through the remittance sent by youth pushed towards an uncertain future. If we do not realize this soon, Nepal will be a country of old people only. Let us all be aware about the need to rejuvenate Kathmandu, which has been pummeled, thrashed, and looted in all sectors, whether they be business, environment, security, education, or transport. Kathmandu’s value resides in its culture and heritage. It is not just any other simple city like many others in the world. It carries thousands of years’ worth of historical importance. Because it was ruled by different tribes, religions, and creeds at various times, there are diverse kinds of culture, languages, and lifestyles here. Today’s unified civilization is the result of the developments of different periods of time.
The mentality of its inhabitants is such that someone coming from Assam, who speaks Nepali, should not make Kathmandu like Assam. Somebody coming from Darjeeling should also be welcomed by Kathmandu. Someone coming from Jhapa should also live like any other Kathmandu denizen in Kathmandu. They should think like the city’s inhabitants. This thinking is that of Kathmandu inhabitants. Responsibility to Kathmandu’s proud history, and seeking an honorable position for it, seems to be behind their thinking. That is why political parties and their leaders, as well as leaders who are enthusiastic about political bargainings, have not been able to either understand Kathmandu, or even if they have the will, are unable to, because of being tied to political affiliations, the results of which we are still suffering today.
Today, Kathmandu is wounded and sick, and on top of that, those who have undertaken the responsibility are still digging and setting up more concrete, encroaching on open spaces, creating garbage dumps, and disregarding even natural laws, making the city more and more ugly by the day, because of which this city and its dwellers are weeping today. It is already late to protect this city’s civilization, culture, and heritage. This work is only possible through the support of this city’s elderly citizens. Heritage preservation does not only mean preservation of infrastructure, it is also preservation of the bank of knowledge, as well as the associated ornaments, attire, and armaments. Preservation should begin before they are already destroyed. If not, there is the danger of losing all that knowledge.
The preservation of our statues and the restoration of our temples must be done. Chowks, bahals, hitis, should also be preserved. Additionally, if we do not preserve the languages and literature, our talk on culture and heritage will only seem hollow. Up to now, various managements have only had the narrow view of preservation of culture and heritage based on just infrastructure preservation. This in itself is dangerous, and of a nature that will destroy Kathmandu’s unique identity. The idea should be to preserve the Bagmati civilization, Lichhavi civilization, and Malla period civilization.