Nepal: Privilege and Entitlement Fostered Myopic Arrogance

This is something I have said before at least a few times (see image below for example): the arrogance of Nepali men knows no bounds, especially that of old, privileged, entitled, hill so-called high caste Hindu male civil servants.

Sadly, the systems and structures are such that not only are their abhorrent behaviors normalized, supported, they are even protected, encouraged, and rewarded, forget hold them accountable for it. Worse, under many circumstances, such arrogance is viewed and accepted as entitlement and something for others to aspire to. We don’t have a dearth of those who do!!

In this blog, I am reproducing — with some minor changes — a Fecebook post I made in March 2019 about an incident where I observed a hill so-called high caste Hindu man, a civil servant, in action confirming all that.

 

I recently had a shocking experience at a private school where I was having a meeting with the Principal and three other administrators, all of whom were women! Ok, I should qualify that as “shocking to me” because I am NOT an average Nepali having returned to Nepal several years ago after spending pretty much all my adult life abroad.

While we were having the meeting, a middle-aged looking man just opened the door, walked in, and sat down in one of the unoccupied seats. He didn’t knock on the door before walking in. He didn’t ask for permission to enter the room. He didn’t ask if he was interrupting. There were no apologies of any kind for just barging in etc.

As a matter of fact, the body language was such that you would have thought he actually owned the place. He walked in, sat down, legs apart, leaned back, folded his hands in front of his chest, and started talking to the Principal without missing a beat!

A school staff soon entered the room to tend to his needs! The man passed on the book and paper document he was carrying with instructions for what to do with them to the staff. He then started addressing another one of the school administrator. I was actually dumbstruck! If I hadn’t known any better, I would have thought I and the other two who he didn’t address or acknowledge at all in any way were wearing invisible cloaks!

Or, if you add the way he talked to the two adult school officials to the way he walked in, his body language, the tone of his voice etc., you could have been forgiven for thinking that the rest of us in the room were…children!

Anyway, the principal asked us — the other administrators and me, yes US — to excuse HIM and her, and to move to another room to continue the meeting. A little later, the Principal joined us briefly and apologized. I share my shock and ask her who the hell he is and who the hell he thinks he is.

I learn then that he’s the Ministry of Education personnel assigned to the school as their “Supervisor” (liaison officer?). I had never heard of such a position, but yeah every private school apparently has someone like HIM. A minder who “oversees” the school in some “capacity” on behalf of the ministry! I don’t really know their responsibilities and I didn’t ask.

She tells me that’s how he is every single time he comes to the school. Worse, that they have to entertain all that and tolerate him. They feel that they are powerless to do anything about it all, that they have no choice but to entertain all that and accommodate him!

That day, a staff had apparently informed him of the Principal being unavailable, on account of her being at a meeting. But that, not surprisingly, hadn’t stopped him, because something like that had never deterred him in the past! The way he operated that afternoon, apparently, is his usual modus operendi. He just shows up unannounced, intrudes upon the Principal and anyone else at the school he needs to see!

Of course, the attitude and behavior displayed by him is NOT exceptional in Nepal. To observe them, all you have to do is to just walk into a government office in the country. If you encounter a different attitude and behavior from a civil servant you consider yourself lucky, exceptionally lucky! I would go buy a lottery ticket immediately after! 🙂 

It’s for that reason that I feel uncomfortable visiting them or engaging with civil servants period, something I tweeted about some time ago (see image below).

But what hill so-called high caste Hindu civil servants know about that? Or, if they do, care about that? What percentage of hill so-called high caste Hindu men in general know or care about that?

Regardless, I label such attitude and behavior of old Nepali men “high caste Hindu men culture,” a culture that needs to change. The reason behind the label is the fact that, for the entire history of the country, the most important structures in the country have been either exclusively or predominantly represented by their kind.

With a monopoly over the most powerful positions at social, at local, and at the central government levels, the privileged and entitled have essentially fostered and supported — among other things — this culture of arrogance and male chauvinism and lack of respect for non-high castes displayed by the man from the Ministry of Education. The culture has thus contributed greatly to a number of social, economic, and political issues and problems plaguing the country, holding it back from making real and sustained progress.

Having said all that, I want to leave you with a word about arrogance.

What do you think?

 

(And, for the disclaimer: My insinuation here is NOT that ALL male hill so-called high caste Hindu civil servants are as arrogant or behave as arrogantly as the above liaison officer, forget ALL male civil servants, forget ALL hill so-called high caste Hindu men.)

 

 

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