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May 30, 2017

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Globalization in the Himalayas

KATHMANDU -- Globalization is like boarding a flight. Once you board it, you cannot get off until you reach the designated destination. The only difference is that, when we board the flight, we know where we are headed. In the case of globalization, we do not know the destination, its climate, its features, or its surroundings.

This is where the uncertainty and fear of globalization stem from, and this is why it is an issue of debate. For us — the people of the Himalayas — the journey towards globalization is replete with uncertainty and vulnerability.

The people in these mountainous regions have now started feeling the adverse effects of globalization. With the steady disappearance of indigenous seeds, genetic diversity is eroding and food culture is steadily moving towards what is available in Delhi, Paris and Shanghai. Additionally, traditional dialects and folk languages are being used less and less. As the agents of globalization infiltrate mountainous areas, the availability of natural resources and practices of sustainability that have prevailed for generations are being sidelined.

The popularity of folk music and traditional literature has been rendered negligible, and families and societies are getting fragmented. Time-honored games and unique cultural activities that used to be undertaken for leisure are now being replaced by the internet, iPads and cellphones.

The younger generations have started to neglect the older generation who were once regarded as traditional keepers of wisdom, and wishes and aspirations have started boiling down to consumerism with increasing importance accorded to things like cars and concrete buildings, which were rare in the mountain regions 40 years ago. The negative impact of globalization is felt at every step, yet we ignore it in the name of emulating the global world and going global.

Optimistic Outcomes

Harnessing the opportunities created by globalization is a challenge. One of the major opportunities is communication technology. Perhaps we can use this technology to generate knowledge and conserve traditional wisdom. This is an aspect of globalism that can be used to our advantage, in comparison to more debatable global products such as pizzas, Levis jeans, Samsung products and Coke.

In keeping with global trends, youth from these mountainous regions are also fashion conscious. They love to undertake fashion-related adventures, and they adore fashion-related goods and services. They know what is the latest in the world of fashion, whether it be in Harajuku in Japan, or Times Square in USA.

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