What’s next: NRNA urged by diaspora to rise above petty politics, launch international lobbying


Bharat Raj Poudel
Bharat Raj Poudel
Ram Khatry
Ram Khatry





Experts and community leaders of the Nepalese diaspora have called on NRNA leadership to do more to convince foreign ministries of various western nations about the escalating humanitarian crisis in Nepal and lobby them to put pressure on the Indian government to relieve its blockade on Nepal.

Optimized-Protest in Sydney
Protesters at NRNA-organised campaign at Sydney’s Martin Place on November 20.

The call comes at a time when the NRNA, or the Non Resident Nepali Association, is dogged by an internal conflict as 14 International Coordination Committee (ICC) executives wrote to their global president Shesh Ghale to dissent against his nomination of 15 co-opted members last Sunday. They complain Mr Ghale, the CEO of Melbourne Institute of Technology, broke the organisation’s constitution by unilaterally making those nominations.

In an interview with southasia.com.au last week, the NRNA president, however, suggested he had broken no rules of the organisation and further urged all concerned to wait for NRNA secretariat’s official position on the subject in due course of time.

The Nepalese diaspora’s concerned observers opine internal conflicts are never good for a not for profit social organisation like the NRNA and now is definitely not the best time for it. They are calling on the group of 14 disgruntled ICC executives and the 99th richest Australian (Mr Ghale) to bridge their differences immediately so that they can focus one hundred percent on ending the Nepal blockade situation.

Dr Krishna Hamal
Dr Krishna Hamal

Dr Krishna Hamal, an Australian economist of Nepalese origin, told southasia.com.au that NRN Australia must lobby the Australian foreign ministry and apprise it of the severe humanitarian impact of the blockade. He urged the community leadership to identify people who can take up the matter with the Australian government as well as with various diplomatic missions in Canberra, not excluding of course the Indian High Commission. The process must be repeated in all countries where NRNA, community organisations and professional societies are present, Dr Hamal remarked.

Melbourne-based psychiatrist and columnist Dr Anupam Pokharel agrees with Dr Hamal’s viewpoint. He said the NRNA hit the right path to end the blockade when it launched the Australia-wide campaign on November 20 by organising simultaneous programmes in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

Dr Pokharel said Friday’s nationwide programmes constituted a politically correct statement in letting Nepalese people back home know that they are not alone in these moments of crises. However, the protests did not appear to attract a lot of attention from the Australian public and the media, he pointed out.

Against these rising voices at international level, there are people within the Nepalese diaspora itself who view the latest protest programmes as irresponsible and damaging to time-tested Indo-Nepal relationship.

Chitra Tumbahangphe
Chitra Tumbahangphe

Indigenous activist Chitra Tumbahangphe, for instance, is strongly opposed to the recent protests organised by the NRNA. The president of the Nepalese Indigenous Nationalities Forum Australia argues that because the blockade was caused by Nepal’s own internal problems, it is useless to blame India for the disruption of transit – a view India has consistently held since the beginning of the problem some two months ago. “India is already saying it is your problem,” he said in an interview with southasia.com.au and added that Nepal must first resolve the issues and then blame others.

According to Mr Tumbahangphe, such protest programmes may damage the bilateral ties between the two South Asian neighbours. “We eat the same food, we talk the same language and people marry across the border,” he said. NRNA is about to damage this time-tested relationship and that is why, he said, he and his organisation did not participate in the anti-blockade campaign.

Asked what he would do should the blockade continue into the future, he said if India ‘crosses’ its limit then he and his organisation would react accordingly but not for now.

Mahendra Kumar Lamsal

But Mahendra Kumar Lamsal, the NRNA boss in charge of Oceania, said the organisation’s sole focus for now is the worsening humanitarian situation in Nepal, nothing else. “If someone has grievances with something else then they should come forward,” he added. But so far as the protest programmes are concerned, they are being held in order to facilitate the normalisation of situation along the Indo-Nepal border points so that essential commodities including life-saving medical supplies could enter Nepal unhindered”, Mr Lamsal reminded.

Mr Lamsal said the NRNA would now submit anti-blockade petitions to various government and diplomatic offices including to the Indian High Commission in Canberra.

Second-term NRNA president Shesh Ghale.
President of Non Resident Nepali Association Shesh Ghale.

Perhaps Shesh Ghale’s active participation in this regard could play a constructive role, particularly in relation to lobbying the Australian foreign ministry as he is a known personality in Australia. His approach would naturally carry more weight than anyone else’s, under the present circumstances.

The BRW rich lister was commended for his active participation of the earthquake relief operations in May. The trust the public put on him must not now be undone by a mere internal wrangling between him and the 14 ICC executives.

Immaterial of what the real issues between them are, the NRNA must prove that it is truly a democratic organisation by putting an amicable resolution to the crisis and get going with the business of supporting their brothers and sisters back home who continue to suffer a concerning continuation of the India-imposed informal blockade.

Add Comment