It is fitting that Anil Chitrakar has authored a book titled Take The Lead: Nepal’s Future Has Begun. After all, he has often ‘taken the lead,’ and has been fairly intricately involved in what Nepal’s Future could be like, while working to conserve its tangible and intangible inheritance, be it culture or the ecology.
Mr. Chitrakar likes to joke that his business card, if he were to make one, should probably say “Fire Fighter.” After all, he is constantly sought out by assorted quarters to sort out issues from the country’s energy crisis to human resources troubles at corporate companies and development agencies alike.
But if he is a fire fighter, he is also an excellent arsonist for all things optimistic, pro-active, and solution oriented. And this book is full of ingredients for both extinguishing fires we don’t need or shouldn’t keep burning, while sparking the ones we do.
There are eight chapters in the book with multiple sub-chapters within each one, and from the start, Take The Lead is an inviting and an easy read, and many of its chapters outright fun in the way in which some fairly heavy socio-political, development, and economic issues are presented.
Like Author, Like Book:
Over the years I have had the privilege of having countless conversations with Mr. Chitrakar and even a few opportunities to work together. And what he is able to bring to Take the Lead is what I have always seen him bring to his meetings, conversations, work place, and community: an incredibly versatile base of knowledge and experience ranging from the most technical (he is an internationally recognized energy engineer and planner and conservationist) to deeply cultural (he regularly hosts Heritage Walks in various parts of Kathmandu valley).
In the book, as he does in person, he seamlessly weaves statistics, anecdotes, and history to make his points. At one point in the book, when he is writing about the earth trying to tell us something, and our need to listen to it really carefully, he narrows that broad conversation to an issue at the heart of Kathmandu and uses a remarkable analogy to make his point. And while I myself had recently written a post on Nepal’s bird flu outbreak, a simple fact on the issue he makes in the book sheds light to a cause and effect that I have not heard in the news media or in conversations. It is also Mr. Chitrakar’s ability to connect multiple dots at lightening speed that makes being privy to his thought process quite enjoyable.
There are moments in the book when Mr. Chitrakar is more direct about problems-solutions. But there are also many moments when he is clearly presenting things with the hope that it gets something going in the minds of the readers, such as the many questions he leaves you with in some of the sub-chapters.
The author is also a person who by nature is in the habit of seeing possibilities. In one subchapter after talking about climate change and its causes and impacts, he writes: “Our “underdevelopment” in the fossil fuel dependent era can become Nepal’s greatest asset in the future.”
For those confused about why Nepal is in the state it is today, you may find some clarity. For those lost about your role in the New Nepal, you might find some direction. For those that remain anxious and/or disappointed about the country, you will find hope. And for those eager to “do something”, you will certainly find motivation.
Oh, and for those who like to Tweet, you will find endless materials! Here’s one:
“To attain our vision for a new Nepal within out lifetime… We must develop a bias for action.”
There are plenty more.
In the book’s preface, Mr. Chitrakar writes: “If you still believe in a shared prosperity and reinstating Nepal’s true place in the global community, you will read and share the contents of this book.”
Towards the end, he adds: “We need to shift the negative conversation into something that will create a “can do” attitude across Nepal and globally. We need to move away from the individual excellence to collective response if Nepal and the Nepali people are going to feel the difference.”
He closes the preface by saying: “It is tough to write a book, but really worthwhile.”
Reading this book, too, was really worthwhile. I hope you will feel the same.
Book review by Kashish Das Shrestha