While studying at Brandeis University in the USA, Bidushi began to see that “many of Nepal’s socio-economic problems continued to prevail because of a lack of leadership—moral, credible, dedicated, and inspiring leadership whose ideals are rooted in the betterment of our society and people.”

The leadership course she received as part of her Daayitwa Public Service Fellowship in 2019 helped her uncover that she could learn to practice her informal authority and have a mutually beneficial relationship with the government. This aided her in completing her research as a fellow at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies successfully. Along with other Fellows, she worked on constructing her Public Narrative, a core component of the course that teaches participants how to share their stories to connect with and inspire others.

Below is her public narrative that she crafted during her fellowship. She shares how she came to choose law as her medium to improve Nepal’s socio-economic condition. Bidushi plans to build her acumen as a lawyer in the USA, before returning to Nepal and building hope for the younger generations of the country.

Dare to Hope

In 1995, a young father left his first child and wife in Kathmandu and traveled to New Delhi to gain admissions at the Delhi University to become a chartered accountant (CA). He was a fresh migrant to Kathmandu who had moved to pursue his B.A. in marketing, economics, and political science at the Tribhuvan University. To study accounting felt like a natural course of action, because it promised financial security and stability, something that he desperately needed to support his new family.

Walking around campus one day under the scorching Delhi sun, the young man saw groups of students excitedly filing into a hall. Curious, he made his way towards the door, and peeking in he saw that the Department of Law had invited a renowned criminal lawyer, Ram Jeth Malani, to give a lecture. On an impulse, he joined the moving crowd, took a seat, and sat there listening for an hour and a half. By the end of the lecture, it became obvious to him what a high-performing and high quality lawyer looked like, one who projected excellence and inspired respect and awe.

Ecstatic, he decided right on the spot that he would change his career trajectory and pursue his studies in the legal field instead. He withdrew from the CA program, filled out the application for the law school, and never looked back.

This was one of those key moments in my father’s life, a clear-cut inflection point, where you say, “After that, everything changed forever.” After receiving his PhD in Constitutional Law, my father left for Cambodia for his first job as an adviser in one of the United Nations’ mission projects. Since then, he has used his career to contribute to nation-building through his work and engagement in public dialogue.

Growing up, I heard this story many times, and I was wowed by the spontaneity of his choice. In retelling this story, my father wanted to inspire me and my siblings to not only study the law, but also realize the profession’s ability to bring positive impact to society. However, as a teenager, I did not want my fate to be decided so prematurely, and I continued to pursue other avenues and interests.

For example, in middle and high school, I started getting into the creative field, and more specifically, art. It was relaxing and therapeutic and yet allowed for creativity and improvisation.

I would start with a vision for a project and end up with something completely different, and I felt liberated. When it was time to apply to colleges, I toyed with the idea of taking my interest further and would constantly argue with my parents, who wanted me to set myself up for a “professional” career. I felt demotivated as I was told that there was no future for me in art or another creative field; there was a future only in a professional legal career.

However, I craved the same eureka! moment that my father had; I had to feel inspired to study law. I wanted the choice to study law to be mine, and mine only, not something that was chosen for me. I wanted to feel in control of my future, and later on, I realized that pursuing a creative subject and arguing with my parents were just ways I was trying to take control.

I decided in college that I would work to claim my choices. My economics and sociology classes exposed me to the concepts of economic and social inequality throughout the developing world; I became inspired to dedicate myself to the good of the public, an ideal that my father had emphasized in words and through his own professional choices. I began seeing that many of Nepal’s socio-economic problems continued to prevail because of a lack of leadership-moral, credible, dedicated, and inspiring leadership whose ideals are rooted in the betterment of our society and people. It was this desire to serve the public and, more so, the ever-inspiring example that my father was, that prompted me to turn to legal work while in the United States.

After graduation, as a research associate at an economic consulting firm, I worked with attorneys and plaintiff law firms that represented small businesses and consumers, who had been wronged by large, (often) monopolistic corporations, in class action lawsuits. It became clear to me that the law was a useful and commendable tool through which many wrongs could be righted. An economic and sociological point of view was interesting to me as a student, but I was also professionally drawn to the study of law when it came to implementing the changes I envisioned.

I realize now that I did not have to follow my father’s chosen path, that in this changing world, I could take the profession and shape it into what fits me and the requirements of my present. This is not to say that the law is the only tool to do that. Often, Nepal’s problems seem endless. Our children lack quality education and infrastructure, our youth lack opportunities for employment, and our elderly lack adequate social security to live securely. Those of working age are often uninspired, passive, and work only to put food on the table. The government has been trying hard, but corruption, unqualified human resources, and political interests hinder the impact that our laws and policies can have. “Brain drain” has become a common phenomenon, and once young and capable people leave the country, they don’t return.

In this scenario, it’s easy to throw our hands up and simply let things continue as they are. But, how far do we let this go? Will we drown in our own apathy? Will we remain a developing country still constrained by dire socio-economic conditions that restrict innovation and growth? Or, will we rise to address these challenges and become a commendable people who leave their mark on the world? Could we become an example to others of what hard work, credibility, and a dedication to bring positive change can look like?

To start, there is just a simple first step we can all take: hope. Hope for a better future for the country, one which will be prosperous and secure, inspiring and nurturing. The hope is in a vision for Nepal where children are inspired in their classrooms, where every child is offered equal choices and opportunities, free of social taboos and restrictions, where every young and capable worker can access plenty of opportunities to showcase her skills, to test her capabilities, and to improve the conditions of her family and community, and where the pride of our nation- the natural environment- is preserved and thriving, while our cities and rural settlements embody the principles of a sustainable and circular economy.

To achieve this “rose-tinted” vision of Nepal will require each and every person, not just those holding leadership titles, to work towards this goal. In our capacities as individuals in our families and in our communities, we need to constantly consider how our actions and choices can help to improve the conditions we face as a nation. In our professional capacities, we need to consider how our professions can help us further an agenda of social progress. How can we inspire the next generation to do better than us to constantly improve our vision for Nepal?

At this point in time, we must commit to a cause bigger than ourselves and work towards transforming a seemingly far-fetched, rosy future for Nepal into our reality. We need to strive for excellence in what we do and commit to positively impacting our surroundings. Perhaps some of us will find our calling through experience and exposure, while others will be struck by a single moment of inspiration. Regardless, all of us are capable of this positive impact, and all of us must try.