By Dr. Stephen Bezruchka
Recently I was hired by a trekking company to research & update its website. I’d call Dr. Stephen Berzruchka’s Trekking in Nepal – A Traveler’s Guide a cultural guide into the world of travel & trekking resulting from the author’s more than 40 years of extensive research & field work in Nepal. Dr. Bezruchka is not an economics pundit but a physician by profession. However, this physician’s economic diagnosis & cultural insight are worth taking into consideration. – ABC Blogger
Below is an excerpt from Dr. Berzhuchka’s Trekking in Nepal – A Traveler’s Guide
Major contributors of aid have been India, Japan, Germany, France, China, and the United States. Having observed this process over twenty-five years, I see development along Western European and North American lines as basically exploitive, but this is hidden by euphemisms. Most aid is tied; it requires purchasing products and services from the donor countries, and much funding pays expatriate salaries for work Nepalis could do themselves. Few projects benefit the disadvantaged. Only 10% of development assistance is said to reach the poor. Much of the funding leaks, finding its ways into the pockets of the nouveaux riches – it has been estimated that anywhere between 10 to over 50% of flows get lost. A look at the burgeoning wealth of the middle class in Kathmandu, where homes cost more than in U. S. cities, attest to this.
Thanks to structural adjustment policies carried out as a condition of receiving World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans, which resulted in devaluation of the rupee, foreigners receive excellent value for their hard currency in Nepal, while the poor there suffer more. One could remark that countries that have had modern “development” are worse off than countries that haven’t. Look at Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and China as examples of Asian miracles. They escaped the development process.
Nepal’s greatest economic resource is said to be the hydroelectric potential of its vast rivers fed by the Himalaya. Attempts at massive international development of this treasure have been thwarted so far, but numerous small projects electrify parts of the country. Indian would like to control this asset and use it to power the billion people sitting south. An unrecognized major assent is the self-respect (ijat) of the hill peasant, who was never subjugated by an external power. He or she works hard and, if away from the development mainstream, does not dwell of being economically poor. Only near the imbroglio of progress do you find people monetarily much wealthier talking about how poor they are. “Development” teaches poverty.
From Trekking in Nepal – A Traveler’s Guide By Dr. Stephen Bezruchka. 7th edition. 1997. p.16-17