Are you a Nepali passport holder? Prepare then to be greeted by suspicious looks and a salvo of queries, whether you are traveling to Amsterdam, Bangkok or Cairo. Nepalis have become notorious among airport authorities the world over for overstaying their visa or even disappearing into thin air. Probe a little and you will be told that Nepalis are also ‘uncouth’ and ‘rude’. It is thus only natural that other countries should try to avoid them. The Nepali passport is unvalued for the same reason. According to the latest Henley Passport Index, the Nepali passport is the seventh worst in the world—even behind the passport of the communist dictatorship of North Korea. While Nepalis are allowed visa-free entry into 38 countries, the North Koreans are welcomed into 40.
That Nepalis are considered ‘escape-prone’ and ‘mannerless’ in turn has a lot to do with the wretched state of their homeland. Its national politics is in shambles: the country has not had a government that has served out its term in the past 32 years of democracy. The economy is, likewise, in tatters, with the finance minister openly working for vested interests and without a clue about running the country’s financial system. Tourism infrastructure and facilities are shoddy. The influence of black-money ever on the rise. Very few good jobs are being created, and even when they are, the pay and perks tend to be rather poor. Most of its youngsters thus want to escape the country the first chance they get.
Another reason for Nepal’s continued slide in the passport index is its poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other countries are not assured that those tested in Nepal are virus-free. That the country should find itself ranked alongside the likes of war-torn Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan again says much about how the rest of the world sees Nepal. The old bunch of corrupt and immoral leaders are taking the country down with them. Before they fully succeed, it is time to boot them out of office in the upcoming elections. A thorough clean-up of the old, stinking stable could for once attract the right kind of international attention.