Nepal Now

The labour migration trap

July 19, 2020 Marty Logan Season 1 Episode 3
Nepal Now
The labour migration trap
Show Notes

According to one of today’s guests, 1 in 5 working age Nepalis is overseas for employment at any one time. In 2019, the earnings sent home by these workers, known as remittances, totalled about $US8 billion, or 25% of Nepal’s gross domestic product, the economic value of its  output. 

COVID-19 hammered labour migration, and the lives of many Nepalis. Some remain stuck in countries far from home, jobless after being cast aside when local economies tanked and the Nepal government refused to let them fly home. Others walked or hitched rides, and were stuck in crude quarantine camps on Nepal’s border with India after the country locked down on March 24th. Those are just a few examples.

Yet even now, tens of thousands of Nepalis are preparing to leave their families and country, often for years at a time, to chase their dream of working abroad. 

Today we’re going to try and make sense of all of this with Bijaya Rai Shrestha, Founder and Chairperson of the Returnee Women Migrant Workers Group and Ramesh Sunam, an assistant professor at Waseda University in Tokyo and author of the just published book, The Remittance Village

Apologies in advance for any strange sounds: this was recorded remotely and Ramesh was in far-away Tokyo. Also, a note for those not familiar with Nepal – both Bijaya and Ramesh refer to each other as Bijaya-ji and Ramesh-ji, an honorific similar to saying Mr or Miss in English.  

Resources

Shuvayatra app for migrant workers (in Nepali) 


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Music: amaretto needs ice ... by urmymuse (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial  (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/urmymuse/57996 Ft: Apoxode


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