IS NRNA BEING “PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH?”
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 23, 2013
An election for NRN Australia 2013-15 term is approaching. I witnessed some of our local NRNA advocates pull their fingers out to campaign for arguably the only umbrella organisation of Nepalese around the world, Non Residential Nepalese Association (NRNA). As a curious mind, it made me want to know a little more into depth about this ‘glorious’ organisation. We are all too familiar with the widespread pessimism and disappointments towards the similar natured organisations that claim to be the trusted one. Nevertheless, seeing much ado about NRN lately, I spared my precious time and energy to knowledge myself about this so called mother entity of all the local Nepalese community organisations globally. Not knowing where I would end up in this process, one thing that I wanted to make sure was not to have any pre-notion that would influence my discovery.
Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) is an organisation established on 11 October 2003 with the purpose of uniting and binding the Nepali Diaspora under one roof. To protect and promote their interest and utilize their potentials and resources for the welfare of Nepal, to act as a catalyst in attracting and facilitating foreign investment, to organise global and regional conferences and interaction programs for its stakeholders and promoting Nepal’s potential as a tourist destination are some of the key points stipulated in NRN’s manifesto. To achieve these objectives an association shall conduct the required activities within and beyond the border.
I could not falter NRN’s motto and the whole concept behind the formation. Especially when the underlying national interests that can only be fulfilled by the direct involvement of Nepalese Diasporas are not hidden from us, an organisation of this sort to come into existence was nothing but an imploration of time. The government of Nepal has also given legal status to this formidable force of NRNA by promulgating Non-Resident Nepalese act 2064 according to which Nepalese citizens living outside South Asian Association for regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries are classified as NRN. Simply, people of Nepalese origin holding foreign nationality other than SAARC nations are categorized as NRNs.
Strangely enough, I fall into the category of NRN is the fact that I thought a little about till today. Having lived in Melbourne, Australia for longer than half a decade automatically makes me a NRN despite of my carelessness to take a membership just as yet. Since I was suggested to come on board by one of my mate who also happens to be an active NRN member locally, I preferred to reflect back on my experiences surrounding all the community organisations including NRNA. Personally, taking a membership was not an issue at all. It would rather give me a sense of responsibility towards my homeland irrespective of where I may have been living but it was purely about making an informed decision.
My apprehension began when I learnt the panel of office bearer’s name that has had the privilege of leading this global organisation for last ten years. When I ran my eyes through each group that had been nominated to drive NRNA from the time of establishment till now, I found a striking similarity which was of their social portfolio. Majority of the NRNA official seem to have come from a successful business background. Next to none was the representation of Nepalese academic, scientists, social workers and so on, people that can impact our communities in a real sense. It literally looked like an annual Forbes rich list. As an ordinary community member I immediately thought, do I belong here? To my knowledge, this has also been a concern of millions Nepalese across the globe. Many people that I have spoken to locally, tend to think NRNA is a forum of wealthy Nepalese businessmen to discuss their money generating strategies. Understandably, by giving an office to those, who have made it big in their respective professional background would add on to NRNA’s credentials but having a representation of grass level Nepalese in the NRNA’s international coordination council is equally crucial to provide a conduit back to ordinary Nepalese hearts.
NRNA has been offering its involvement in wide range of socio-economical and political issues of Nepal. Whether by setting up coordination committees to deal with youth and women empowerment or by forming a task force to tackle with constitution amendment and rules formation committee NRNA has shown its promises to be a part of better Nepal but has it done as much as should have? If an organisation that can afford to splurge hundreds of thousands of dollars just in their meetings and conferences in five star hotels proudly releases a report of just thirty one million rupees being spent across various projects in, Nepal there is something wrong. If we put some facts and figures together for overall NRNA contribution towards Nepal’s development, it makes anyone wonder whether it is actually charity driven or just a pathway for some wealthy entrepreneurs to get advancement to their political ambition.
NRNA’s collective investment programme was much talked about lately. To invest in hydro power project in its initial phase, NRNA started collecting fund from its members worldwide. In Australia alone they apparently managed to raise around 1.5 million dollars. The point here, however, is that the scheme did not reach out to our community members as widely as it could have. The fund collection scheme was treated as though it was limited to some elite local Nepalese. The rest were heard complaining about NRN not being accessible in terms of providing information, resulting in them missing out on the project. This characterises NRNA not being the voice of the majority.
Apart from running some tiny welfare fund and organising some social gatherings every now and then, NRNA Australia has not done anything significant but strident promises. Particularly from a Melbournian point of view, it’s about time that it starts looking into the genuine issues of Nepalese students, initiate a campaign to promote Nepal’s tourism potential in a greater way, link all the ethnic and community sub groups in one rope, build a bilateral working rapport with other communities or else NRN’s going to remain just another organisation which is penny wise and pound foolish spending a lot in policy making with zero implementation.
Regardless of everything, I am still optimistic and want everyone to take a pragmatic approach in their decision making. I am adamant to embark on NRNA’s boat this year but the only motive behind this article is to help people make an informed choice but never to influence anyone’s inclination.