Developing Dilemma

A simple offering of another perspective in which you may widen your scope of viewing the world. A look into a commonly used term. Inspired by my recent travels to Nepal, Malaysia, & Singapore.

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I try to resist using the term developing country to describe Nepal as compared to a developed country such as Malaysia. I think most people use it to determine placement on a scale of economic development. Mostly, I feel as though it places the only view of Nepal (and all countries) through a western-standard lens. A standard consisting of capitalism, consumerism, industrialization, etc. A standard that western countries believe is ideal and that everyone should be working towards; if you're there you are developed and if you are working on it you are developing. There goes again countries and people imposing their beliefs and values on others. And I'm of the opinion that those qualities aren't actually great and ones to aspire to, and yes I realize that is coming from a place of privilege sitting in a western country. I'm just trying to say that just because Nepal may not have what the western world deems as successful and prosperous or even progressive doesn't mean that the people of Nepal don't have a quality of life that THEY want. But you say, their living standards would increase and their way of life would be easier if they followed the developing world's ways. And that is the main justification of colonization.

Of course there's a lot of factors contributing to all this, one being media and consumerism making people feel inadequate and that they need certain things or to have a certain job or to live a certain way in order to be happy or successful. I'm not saying that the people in Nepal don't want those things. I do think however that being constantly bombarded with that way of life is going to make anyone question theirs and possibly see theirs as inferior.

Sure, Nepal struggles with some basic human needs. They have no waste-management system and trash piles up on the streets and in waterways. Their power supply is inconsistent and not widespread leaving the capital fairly dark at night. The devastating 2015 earthquake exacerbated many infrastructure failings. Transportation is a pain and the roads are falling apart. Access to food, education, and clean drinking water are issues they face, but I think you can say the same thing about any other country in the world, even the US. Developed countries are not immune to difficulties; they have their own set of social problems as well.

Developed or developing, neither represent an accurate portrait of a people's quality of life nor their contentment. I'll conclude by saying that there's more than one indicator of happiness and success (if that's even what you deem a reason for living is). What one person may find joy and fulfillment in a shiny new car, one may find peace and love in sitting outside drinking tea with family and friends. I think it best to not judge others based on a one-size fits all approach. I imagine we all do our best when we reach for whatever may fill us.

Moving forward I recommend not labeling a country or group of people based upon future financial growth. I am not offering a substitute term. Just say what you are trying to say.

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Sara Leibold