With thousands of our people in remote villages running out of time while relief supplies and volunteers wait to be deployed, our government insists on caution where courage is not only necessary but mandatory. As any nation facing a crisis of mammoth proportions soon learns, the members of the affected community itself are always the first to rise up to the occasion and make a difference between life and death, long before professional organizations or relief agencies even begin to arrive on the scene. This is true even more so in Nepal as our culture demands that we help one another, caring nothing for ourselves in the process. Still, instead of freeing us to fulfill our sense of duty and reach out from the heart to our fellow countrymen, this administration chooses to adopt policies that not only limit our capacity to serve one another but negates it altogether.
Right now at this very moment, our officials insist on a "one window" policy which prohibits vital airlifts or independent relief efforts by agencies and individuals who have the knowhow and are ready to move in. This move, founded in fear of losing control, is misguided and represents the kind of crisis of imagination that holds us back as a nation and prohibits us from taking the kind of ownership, agency and initiative that any democracy needs if it is to survive, let alone thrive, and that we are tasked with doing right now.
The era of control, political maneuvering and policy motivated by fear must end right now, and we can begin by lifting the limitations placed on private and individual efforts to do what is needed for those who are suffering fates that we can only imagine. If Nepal is to emerge from this present hell, we must do so together, with the government playing its proper role as public servant, not cowardly overboard. We must begin at once to allow the private sector to work in ways that the government cannot--not in an effort to usurp authority or override national concerns--but as a strategic and essential supplement to the war on death and devastation that we must now wage together.
Now is the time for our public officials to lead by allowing each one of us to play our part. Large, knowledgeable NGOs and international relief agencies can secure our capital with the help of our citizens. And smaller, organized private companies and coalitions of individuals can charter helicopters and take out personal missions to provide aid to those who do not have our level of material resources and cannot afford to wait. This will not lead to chaos. It will create movement and, more importantly, it will save lives. Our citizens know how to work with local officials and how to be part of a collaborative whole. The knowledge that these noble citizens and private organizations will thus gain will be invaluable for the government in putting together a comprehensive strategy as large, experienced relief agencies move in and begin their comprehensive relief work for this great nation of ours.
Our people have shown extraordinary patience, compassion and love. As a nation, we have experienced the unspeakable trauma of the very earth breaking open underneath our feet. And for so many of our brothers and sisters across Nepal, the nightmare is not yet over. Now is the time for us to rise up for them, all of us, in any and every capacity we can, so that lives can be saved and hope revived. This is not the domain or task of any one entity--it is for all of us. That is why we are imploring officialdom to immediately grant those with the means and the will to save lives the powers to do so. End the one-window policy and trust us to do what we are already determined to do: save our brothers and sisters and rescue our hopes.
From Republica. First published on May 03, 2015.