The tragedies behind Nepal’s fresh suffering

tags: Nepal

Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University and author of “Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education.”

When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Nepal 30 years ago, I felt a small earthquake. It was just a few small tremors in the middle of the night, but it was big enough to wake me up.

The next morning, I asked my “Amma” — meaning “Mother,” the matriarch of my host family — what had happened. “There’s a fish underneath the ground,” she said, “and it flops around when we do something wrong.”

I thought of her comment as I read about Saturday’s massive earthquake in Nepal, which has already claimed more than 4,000 lives.

Of course, none of the victims deserved their horrendous fate. But there really is something wrong in Nepal, and it helps explain the devastation that the country is experiencing. It’s called politics.

Simply put, Nepal’s leaders have been too busy battling each other to establish a workable state. ...

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