As a disclaimer, this is not a blind rant against the West and how Western intellectuals and economists seem to dominated development policy and thoughts on development worldwide. This post is just an honest look into the current trends in development thoughts in Nepal - a developing nation in South Asia which also happens to be one of the poorest country in the world.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that thoughts and policies on development in Nepal are largely influenced by Western economists and intellectuals. Due to the country's poor education structure, lack of properly trained professionals and a culture that discourages intellectual pursuits and emphasizes on material achievements, Nepal so far has relied heavily on imported ideas.
But is it fair to the country's poor and what is the role of local media in promoting Western thoughts?
Not all imported ideas are unfit to work in Nepal's context, but some just don't mix well with local customs and traditions and facts of life. For example, here in the West mechanization of agriculture and industries is heavily favored to lower costs and overhead expenditures. In Nepal, push towards mechanization in some parts of the country - especially the industrial South, has contributed to unemployment and affected local economy adversely rather than making a positive contribution.
It is a matter of commonsense for planners and development agencies to weigh ideas before blindly copying them. Unfortunately in Nepal, this commonsense is far less common and the media has something to do with it.
Mainstream media, lead by national dailies, published out of the capital Kathmandu, are heavily influenced by Western thoughts and ways. The deteriorating security situation in the countryside has forced the reporters to limit themselves to safer, more urban areas. Which has skewered their observation in favor of the imported ideas. So, when an op-ed on economy is published by these giant publishers, more often than not, the author is pro-West and pays very little attention to the merits of native ideas and thoughts.
English-language publications, whose target audience is the educated, middle class population in the cities and the expatriate population, are the ones pushing the West side story more often than the Nepali language publications. Although compared to the readership of Nepali publications English language newspapers have much smaller audience, their audience is the one with the most influence.
Policy makers, development agencies, activists and students - they are influenced by the ideas disseminated by the English language papers. They have more say on important matters. Thus, Nepal's development policy so far has been dominated by Western ideas.
But this tilt is definitely unfair to the country's poor, the majority of whom live in the countryside; their lives bear little resemblance to the Western world. Policies to improve lives of Nepal's poor, rural population are best developed in-house. This is not rejection of Western thought, but a necessity which enriches the Western thoughts on democracy and rule of law and equal rights for all. Let Nepalis think what is best for Nepal.