Sunday, March 1, 2009

Globalisation and my pals: The Kathmandu Post

(Read from The Kathmandu Post)

Born in a remote village in Nepal, always wondering how it would feel to travel in a vehicle or just to see one, I passed my childhood as an ordinary village boy. As a schoolboy, everyday I used to traverse the distance between my home and school and loved wandering about the rivers. But having recognized the importance of higher education in time, and having faced many hurdles and deprivations in the course of obtaining it, my father did not wait to send me to the capital city to graduate from an English medium school. 

My village pals, most of them now labouring in Gulf countries, could not attain higher education. I am the most fortunate among my contemporaries. I entered the digitising world asking a classmate how to switch on a computer and receiving a look of shock and amusement in return. Few months later, I started surfing the internet. I had a walkman then. Later I was accompanied by Discman, MP3 player and finally the I-pod. 

The weekly one-hour internet surfing has now become an essential part of my life. I do class assignments on the computer. When I am surfing I get wholly transported into another world. I learn about different issues across the globe. I chat with friends studying in Australia and America. I comment on my friends' photos and articles on Facebook. I try to update my blogs with hot issues, articles and eye-catching photos so that the viewers would go through the ads on it. I have a world in front of me. But only few of my contemporaries are privileged enough to access technology as I do. I see many of them learning the basics of computer so that they can find a better job in Malaysia or Qatar. 

Three years ago, my friend Rajkumar was completely amazed when I showed him his portrait and video in my digital camera. Earlier, he used to amaze me by showing tricks on his digital watch sent by his father working as a rickshaw-puller in Letang. He told me the watch was a small television, and I believed him at the time. After all, the privilege of information is not readily available to all in our country. In Kathmandu itself, there are many people who have no access to information technology. Information have-nots still form the greater population of the city. 

Television is still considered a luxury for many people in remote parts of Nepal. The majority of population daily fights darkness with the dim light of lamps. Radio Nepal and FM stations are still the chief source of information and entertainment for most people across the country. At a time when it is impossible to get a higher paying job without knowing internet, my friends in the village still don't have access to it. The gap between the global surge in IT and the IT knowledge of Nepalis remains very wide. Globalisation has missed my old pals.

(Published on 23rd February 2009, The Kathmandu Post)

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