Religion and Basic Survival: Open the Nepali Borders

Pokhara, Nepal, photo by Dhilung Kirat,

Sarangkot Sunrise, Pokhara, Nepal, photo by Dhilung Kirat, reproduced here under the Creative Commons license

Friends in Nepal tell me that the country — already poor and still struggling to survive and recover after the earthquakes — is now running out of fuel and other essential resources, because of the “unofficial” blockades at the Indian border related to hardline religious oppression by conservative Hindu reactions in India to Nepal’s new “democratic” (“secular”) constitution. Opponents want Nepal to return to a Hindu state; in the meantime, they have blocked the country’s borders (India surrounds Nepal on three sides; China on the fourth of this landlocked country), disabling essential transport into Nepal of fuel, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other essential food items.  This is crippling Nepali transportation as well as businesses (restaurants), and ordinary families who need cooking gas and clean drinking water. Trucks that can get past the border obviously will carry a higher price for their merchandise, further crippling and impoverishing many. This means more women already badly malnourished, are further starving, and more children are likely to die needlessly due to infectious diseases they might have survived if they were better nourished and had clean water. It affects children’s education and ability to learn. Despite its magnificent beauty, Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

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