By Ram Khatry in Brisbane
18 July 2017
Some members of the Nepalese community are concerned NRNA Australia is becoming an expert-free zone because of its failure to attract and retain professionals working in various government and non-government sectors.
Leadership of the not-for-profit organisation needs to examine why only eight thousand Nepalese Australians have chosen to become its members whereas the country has over 60,000 Nepali-speaking people, they ask.
According to a retired economist, this minimal involvement of community members clearly indicates that the organisation does not represent a large chunk of the Nepalese Australian diaspora.
“I do not have data to support my claim but it is generally understood that the excluded NRNs include majority of academics, highly qualified professionals and second generation Nepalese. This fact becomes clearer in almost all events organised by NRNAA,” says Dr Hom Moorti Pant.
Dr Pant has put forward a number of possible reasons for this situation.
“First, academics and professional people have their professional standing and are more interested in academic and professional discourse than anything else. They may be more interested in helping the country (Nepal) using skills they have mastered. NRNAA leadership in most situations appears not interested in this area, barring the occasional workshops organised by the Skill, Knowledge and Innovation team. Second, it is also commonly understood that the platform provided by the NRNAA, and NRNA, generally has been used for extracting commercial or otherwise benefits including tax concessions in Nepal. Because of such potential rent-seeking opportunities offered by the platform, one may see a lot of investments made around elections to win the NRNA leadership positions. Third, as a corollary of the second point, aspirant leaders have resorted to political groupings, reflecting the political divisions of the home country to win the leadership position,” the adjunct fellow at Australian National University (ANU) told southasia.com.au in an emailed response.
Sydney-based solicitor Dr Shamser Thapa also holds similar view when it comes to NRNA’s failure to appeal to the wider Australian Nepalese communities living across the country.
The Sydney-based solicitor says NRNA Australia must consider why the number of registered members is so low, why it failed to attract people from all walks of life, why it is regarded as not being “inclusive” and most importantly why Nepali politics (activities related to political parties of Nepal) is directly interfering into its affairs.
“Also, I believe, it is confined to petty issues as opposed to substantial, such as, announcing visa grant to Mahabir Pun, advertising personal businesses etc,” Dr Thapa further added.
Dr Raju Adhikari, principal scientist at CSIRO Manufacturing, echoed similar views. He said skills and knowledge were not a big part of the recently concluded NRNA Australia election campaign. “SKI agendas were on a low pitch during the NRNA Australia election which was a bit disappointing. It may be due to the perception that the NRN community is largely interested in capital rather than knowledge investment,” Dr Adhikari said. He hoped that the new Oceania team of NRNA will continue to build on the legacy of SKI.
Dr Adhikari said SKI should be one of the main drivers to utilize Nepalese diaspora’s Knowledge, Skills and Innovation for Nepal’s overall and sustainable prosperity.
NRNA Australia’s incoming president Tonnou Ghothane says, once he takes over from outgoing president Surendra Sigdel, he would make every effort to make NRNA Australia a common platform for all members of the community who can make positive contribution to Nepal, including of course the expert group of people.
Brisbane-based media expert Dr Bharat Raj Poudel called on the incoming NRNA Australia team to find a way to bring these expert groups on board, “This election has once again failed to bring these people on the NRNA mainstream. However, we can still be optimistic about creating a special platform including NRN SKI Task Force to seek advice and innovative ideas from these groups so that Nepal benefits in the long run.”
“As we know, Mahabir Pun was campaigning for a National Innovation Center while we were talking about an open university through NRNA. There are many ways we can support Nepalese villages where technologies and indigenous knowledge and skills are essential. None of the NRN leaders up until now has been able to address these agendas of the Nepalese people,” he lamented.
Dr Thapa also called for a greater transparency and accountability within the organisation.
NRNA Australia needs to be transparent and accountable in relation to financial matters, he said. “Members who have already contributed substantial amounts are not even in the list and people who have only made commitments but have not contributed as yet are found everywhere,” he said.
He urged that NRNA Australia must put in place a mechanism to collect the long-committed but pending donations.
“Conflict of interests needs to be addressed and code of conduct needs to be drafted, implemented and complied with by each executive. Sometimes, profession of the executives may affect their dealing with ordinary members,” the head of Shamser Thapa and Associates said.
Commissioner of NRNA Election 2017 said experts and highly qualified members of the Nepalese Australian community would perhaps be more forthcoming to join in if groupism is discouraged in the future. Simplification of the membership process is of paramount importance in that regard, Dr Krishna Hamal maintained.