Khagendra GC is renowned name among the Nepalese American community in America. Besides being a noted lawyer here, he has actively involved in defending the human, social, economic and political rights of Nepalese immigrants. He is also the Coordinator of the ad hoc committee of Nepali Janasamparka Samiti, America and is presently working for conducting the General Convention of the organization. Purushottam Dhakal of Nepal24hours.com took on with GC and discussed contemporary issues related to the plight of Nepalese immigrants, politics and other social issues in this interview.
Why did you come to America
Study law and get back to Nepal to serve
Have you achieved your aim and objective in the US
Yes. After graduating in Law I became the first Nepali to practice law here. But I regret I could not get back Nepal due to violent political scenario at that time.
Nepal and USA, what differences have you found between them?
There are host of differences. At the economical, cultural, social and other arenas of general human life. Most importantly Americans are law-loving people. They abide by laws and follow the legislation strictly even if it is against their interest. But in Nepal from politicians to civilians, all of them always try to break the laws. This tendency has promoted corruption across the country in most of the system. Consequently, it has triggered instability, insecurity and lack of faith in the system.
What good sides of America should Nepal and Nepalese adopt?
Rule of law, stable political government, democratic system which provides equal space to all, hard-working ethics, economic development and every one is concerned and dedicated to national development.
What is the condition of Nepalese diasporas here?
Those who have studied here they are better off. Rest new comers with no US degree have many problems. Most of them do blue color jobs. But they are educating their children and they will probably fulfill the dreams of their parents in this land of unlimited opportunities.
Nepalese-Americans have mostly failed to enter the mainstream. Why?
It takes time to acculturation and accommodation. Nepalese Americans will also be a part of the mainstream here gradually. Other immigrants, who were also us previously, have mainstreamed now. It’s an example to follow.
There are claims that the Nepalese Americans have failed to get established in the mainstream because Nepalese community organizations have failed to implement effective community centered programs in educational, health, social security, business and political sector? What is opinion?
I really don’t agree with this perception. Nepalese Americans who migrated here many years ago have settled down. And the process will be same for new arrivals. Actually Nepalese population in American has increased during the last decade.
During this short period also most of the Nepalese have performed well in the field of education, law, science, business and medicine in comparison to migrants from other South Asian countries.
Nepalese have established themselves as good lecturers in noted universities, good doctors, engineers, lawyers. They are no more the ‘Bahadurs’. It’s a taboo tagged to Nepalese by the Indians to domesticate and subjugate them.
Nepalese American social welfare institutions here are divided on the basis of lingual, cultural, and ethnical identity. Do you think this has been hindering the mainstreaming of Nepalese diasporas.
Back in Nepal all social, political and economic institutions have been fighting for these differences, and the trend seen here is just a reflection of the culture inherited by us there. But we should use our differences to maintain our language, culture and origin and develop the culture of accommodation and unity among us to prosper. Differences do not benefit.
You have been working in the social front for a long time now. As a leading social activist what do you think is essential to mainstream Nepalese Americans?
Get involved in local community and national issues, accommodate politics here, and learn to assist the community of which you are part. Educate your children and express your opinions and problems with other community members. Do constructive work and if possible help Nepal by indulging constructive work.
What is the condition of illegal Nepalese immigrants? Can’t they be granted legal status here? What is US government’s stand on this issue?
Illegal immigrants have been a major headache for the American government and it has been deporting illegal immigrants who indulge in criminal activities. There are possibilities that a new laws will be coming to address these issues soon. The Obama government is working on these new legislation.
The US has accommodate large number of Bhutanese refugees, so is it not possible for the government to accommodate Nepalese illegal immigrants who are few in number?
To provide legal status to the minority of Nepalese illegal immigrants our community will have to put up a legal fight in the court and lobby with the Senate. Besides these options, nations lagging behind in terms of socio-economic development can request the US government for resolving such problems.
What is your choice? Nepal or America?
America for all other reasons but Nepal for my own identity, and culture. It is a place where I would love to go always and cherish it whenever I can.
Despite the prevalence of hundreds of ethnic communities in America it does not have ethnic federalism, but Nepal with few numbers of ethnic communities is vying to adopt it. What is your opinion on the ongoing struggle for ethnic based federalism?
Ethnic politics is not in the interest of anyone. The racial discrimination between the Blacks and Whites in America and the efforts to homogenize them are strong examples that discourage such ethnic based practices. Nepal should avoid making such a mistake that will escalate ethnic tensions.
You had stepped down from the Coordinator of Jansampark Samiti? But recently you are working for the general convention?
For the collective unity among democratic Nepalese in Americas and on the request of central leaders I have started to work on convening the General Convention of the organization so that the leadership can be handed down formally.
Interview Translated and Edited by: Chitra Raj Bhandari (firstname.lastname@example.org)