Tremors in the Himalayas

Poverty-stricken Nepal faces an uphill climb after two terrible earthquakes, but its politicians and neighbors see only their own opportunities

By Animesh Roul and Akanshya Shah

Two successive earthquakes, first on April 25 of this year and then on May 12, visited death and devastation on the tiny Himalayan nation of Nepal. The tragedy took the lives of more than 8,000 people and left thousands more wounded and more than a million homeless and displaced. These earthquakes and their hundreds of aftershocks, which continued into June, damaged more than a million homes as well as the morale of a country known for its brave and resilient Gurkha people.

The earthquakes have added unprecedented misery to communities already suffering from years of political instability and economic downturn. The international community, especially Nepal’s neighbors, India and China, have stepped forward with immense aid efforts. Nestled between the two great Asian powers, Nepal may benefit from their political rivalry in its reconstruction efforts.

The nation is nonetheless in dire need. The government and civil administration face a humongous task of infrastructure rebuilding, with needs including providing temporary structures for the quake-hit population, repairing damaged government buildings, and restoring destroyed historical monuments and world heritage sites like Bhaktapur and Patan.

In all probability, the volume of destruction is much greater than the official estimates. The country witnessed a number of its iconic UNESCO World Heritage sites and popular tourist attractions reduced to piles of rubble. Among the well-known Kathmandu landmarks destroyed by the quake was the 200-foot Dharahara Tower. Built in 1832, the landmark was cut down to a 30-foot pile of bricks. And many more historic Hindu and Buddhist holy sites were destroyed.

The most urgent task is twofold. First, the government has to send food and supplies to the remote villages—a process which will be hugely hindered by the upcoming monsoon season. Second, there are many villages that are …

To read complete articles from the Summer 2015 issue, you must subscribe to our eReader edition.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s