TOPICS : Labour export, remittance and foreign policy

At the heart of every state’s foreign policy lies the preservation and promotion of national interest. The other fundamental of foreign policy is determination of specific and concrete goals. Territorial security, peace, national integrity, national identity, national dignity and economic well-being are all appendages of national interest. There should be no space for compromise on these vital issues.

The government has been seeking employment opportunities for Nepalis in international labour market. It has spread its reach to some Arabian countries, Malaysia, and South Korea. Arrangements are also afoot to push for more Nepali labour in Japan. Again a few months ago, an addendum labour agreement was signed between Nepal and Qatar. The poverty-stricken Nepalis seem happy enough. The government also seems content in hiding its inability to explore new job opportunities within the country. All these attempts of government might help our nation accumulate some foreign currency in terms of remittance. But in the process, has it thought about how our dignity is being eroded in the process? We have been supplying labour to the international market as if the whole country were merely a labour-supplying agent. If this trend continues, in a not too distant future, Nepal’s image will be that of labor supplying agent of South Asia.

It has long been observed in Nepal that an ambassador who can rope in foreign aid is deemed highly successful. But what is aid worth as compared to national dignity? A donor is always the master, the recipient, the beggar. A lender is always superior, the borrower, inferior. On top of that, the donor/lender has many provisions. It directs, controls, supervises and orders the recipient. Only the degree of dominance differs from country to country. Therefore, influencing aid is the meanest kind of diplomacy.

Labour supply contributes nothing substantial. It is negative diplomacy which degrades our dignity and credibility as a nation. But our diplomats are still evaluated highly on the basis of the money they can bring in instead of the universal fundamentals of foreign policy — promotion and protection of national dignity. Nepal will have to revise these fundamental aspects. It would be a matter of pride if we prepared experts or skilled manpower to send to friendly countries. But that is not the case.

Sending human resources to work as labourers in the international arena might empty the country of young blood, the protectors of national security. In their absence who will defend our territorial integrity? If the government and policy-makers are serious about protecting and promoting our dignity, they must train the diplomats to attract foreign capital to their homeland as joint ventures. This is neither borrowing nor receiving. This is partnership, none of the sides master or servant. This system will not only boost our national pride but also provide our human resources with employment at home.

Poudyal was press advisor to PM in former CPN-UML government