The Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) was established 18 years ago with the motto ‘For Nepali, By Nepali’. Right now, it has national coordination councils in 82 countries. Nepalis living outside the Saarc region or people of Nepali origin with foreign nationality are considered NRNs, according to the Non-Resident Nepali Act 2064.
Although the association was established to promote the use of knowledge and resources of NRNs for their home country’s benefit, critics argue that politics now dominates the organization. Its council meetings are often marked by fisticuffs and acrimonious exchanges, and NRNA leaders are often accused of using their resources to buy support to get to the top.
Pratik Ghimire of ApEx spoke to DB Chhetri, NRNA spokesperson, about the association’s plans and image.
What is the association’s focus right now?
Since last year, all our focus has been on Covid-19 pandemic. We are keen to help the Nepali diaspora with a suitable relief package by coordinating with respective national coordination councils. Also, we made some investments and carried out organizational restructuring. We have received complaints that the association has failed to transform its leadership. So, each coordination council is organizing its convention by October, following a proper restructured framework, legislations, methods, and laws. Besides, we have been putting pressure on the Nepal government and working with it to rescue Nepalis stranded abroad.
Is it mandatory for association members to fight during its gatherings?
As we know, Nepalis have a habit of celebrating election victories as festivals and wherever they go, they are driven with the same mentality. Because of this unnecessary hype surrounding the elections, unfortunately, we have to deal with various disrespectful acts. We will prepare directives to avoid these things in the coming days.
This story also has another side. We have grown into a massive organization and now, almost all political parties want to establish their dominance over the NRNA. But these are problems related to some individuals rather than organizational drawbacks.
Why don’t you bar miscreants from your organization?
Like I said, most of these disputes are the result of a handful of individual reasons. As an organization, we are not facing an ideological or organizational crisis. Yes, so we are working to forbid politically motivated people from joining our organization. Further, the association is determined to conduct its elections online, backed by strong laws, so that there are fewer instances of disputes. The NRNA wants to be the voice of over five million Nepalis living abroad. We are against those who use their money rather than their vision to claim leadership.
Can we imagine an NRNA that is completely free of political influence?
Politics is what helps make society aware of contemporary issues. We can’t avoid politically literate people, but NRNA never welcomes politically affiliated masses. When the mainstream political parties stop treating us like their sister organizations, only then can we implement our policies legitimately. We partner with the Nepal government in every task and they should also take necessary steps not to let the association come into dispute.
Politicians and bureaucrats should not treat us as rich investors. We are just stakeholders of Nepalis living abroad. The NRNA produces social activists, not politicians.
Candidates contesting NRNA elections are spending a lot of money and are reportedly even resorting to immoral acts to secure victories.
We are unaware of these kinds of conduct. If we find someone involved in such activities, we will immediately punish the related person. What I want to say to our members is, report illegal activities. If you don’t, you are defaming our glorified organization just for your benefit. No one has to spend money or resort to immoral means to win NRNA elections. All it takes is a proper agenda.
The media has also played some role in defaming the association. I request the fourth state to refrain from biased coverage.