Sunday, September 18, 2011

NRN Event At Thakali Kitchen

I happened by the NRN event at the Thakali Kitchen yesterday. I was out and about taking pictures when two people from out of town - Ratan Jha and Mukesh Singh - showed up on my camera's screen.

I show up for events. I don't join organizations. That has been my style. That was my style also when I was doing full time work for Nepal's democracy and Madhesi movements.

It was good to see people like Temba Sherpa do a major membership drive for the NRN organization in the city recently. Nepali organizations in the diaspora tend not to be mass based. And Nepalis in the city are light years away from even wanting - let alone achieving - voting rights in this city. That probably is my number one reason to not become a formal part of the NRN movement, and to stay put with my limited involvement at the city level in mainstream politics.

The NRN movement has fundamental deficiencies. The urge for "consensus" instead of going for democratic, competitive elections hinders progress. Getting along is more important than getting things done. And so you end up with an organizational culture of homesick people who pour enormous energies to put together events so they can meet each other in person. Nothing wrong with all that bonding, but if that ends up the primary purpose of the organization big things are not attempted.

Another major deficiency is the lack of use of social media. People should not have to travel nationally and globally to get active with the organization. This was not the first time Ratanji had suggested his ability to travel was his number one claim to a leadership position. It ought not be that way.

Everyone took turns to speak. I made the shortest of comments. I welcome all those who are here from outside the city, I said. And that is all I said.

The dinner was nice. I got to meet a relative who I did not even know was in New Jersey. I got to sit next to someone with whom I had an email exchange a year ago. I had never met her, never seen her picture.

The NRN movement lacks bigness of vision, and that comes from its lack of grassroots spread, and the stifling of basic democratic processes. There ought be vigorous debates and voting, not "consensus."
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