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Galkot Glorious past, Dim future

Posted on May 28, 2012 by aakash under Miscellaneous

Tags: Baglung, Galkot, Remittance

I come from Kathmadu, which in my view, well, until I came to Baglung bazar, was the most expensive place of Nepal. Don’t get me wrong, Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is expensive compared to other regions of Nepal but not as expensive as Baglung! Add this to the fact that Baglung is not very remote with accessible roadways, although gravel in most places, and we get an anomaly, something I could not comprehend.


But my recent travel to Galkot clarified the region for this situation. Galkot was ruled by the Malla kings before being unified by Prithvinarayan Shah. Its history is full of prosperity and wealth. The rulers were powerful and rich and  the subjects were financially strong as well. Agriculture and trade fostered is this region. 


The palace that stands in this place depicts the glorious past (http://www.flickr.com/photos/aakashgautam/7279708810) . This two storeyed building along with its well maintained garden and courtyard shouts grandeur from every corner of the area. Even the grills installed within the palace is so well designed that it could bring modern wrought iron industrialists to shame. The garden has trees that are not available in this region and was probably imported.


The present, however, is not as glorious. The ten years civil war forced many youths of this region to join the Maoists as guerilla fighters. Majority of these youths lacked the necessary education or awareness to make sound, rational judgements and therefore blindly followed what their “abled” comrades ordered. Now, after the war these youths have nowhere to go. They lack any skills necessary for job. Furthermore, they have also garnered some ideological beliefs making them unwilling to work in the informal sector. They have very few alternatives other than to go abroad to work. These and those that were driven by fear during the war have caused the locals to depend upon remittance. Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and India are the most popular destination amongst the exodus here. Although this trend is common all over Nepal, it has. apparently, a greater impact on Baglung.


People here are heavily dependent on remittance. All the houses in Galkot where I questioned had at least one member of the family working somewhere abroad(trust me, I am not exaggerating this is true for ALL the houses). This number was as high as five members working abroad. This troubled me because of two reasons. First, those that went abroad are the ones that have the potential to develop the locality. Because of migration very few capable people are left and they are not sufficient. The other troubling thing is not apparent although more harmful. Those left behind are too-dependent on remittance and I found most of them to be slacking and lazy. The money sent from abroad is sufficient to sustain their livelihood and this has removed the incentive to work. I found people with large cultivable lands that had the potential to harvest paddy three times a year, harvesting only once. Productive fields were left barren. People were willing to buy products that they could have easily produced in their backyard. Because of this, in this region, a kilo of cucumber costs around Rs. 80 and a kilo of cabbage costs Rs. 45. 


On a different note, I would like to mention that people do grow one thing here - cannabis. It’s grown everywhere. And to their credit, they make tasty cannabis pickle here (called “bhang ko achar”). If you ever come to Baglung, or anywhere near, do try it (no matter how much you have it, you will not get high). But apart from this, people hardly grow anything else despite having the potential.


The future seems bleak if the current tendency continues. Nepal is already under a huge political turmoil and uncertain future looms in front of it. If people continue to be unproductive and lax then the once grandeur palace may crumble and nothing but dirt and dust will remain.   

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