ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The First 24 Hours

National resilience against a backdrop of material poverty is a recurring theme in Nepal, as illustrated by the gritty response of Nepalis to the 2015 earthquake that killed over 2,000.

On the morning of 25 April 2015, more than 150 political leaders from the largest party in Nepal, the Nepali Congress, had assembled at the Diyalo Party Palace for a policy orientation. This event had been postponed a few times earlier, and had finally managed to assemble a large posse of top leaders, including a deputy prime minister, several cabinet members, and dozens of MPs and former ministers. As a Member of the National Planning Commission, the Vice Chairman and I were about to take turns speaking on the country’s development plan and vision when the shaking started at 11.56 am.

The venue was a one-storeyed hall with dubious integrity. When the pandemonium ensued, people either ducked or headed for the exit, some with light plastic chairs above their heads. Otherwise composed old men—there were very few women—ran for their lives. I held on to a side door with a plastic frame. The shaking was terrifying, magnified by the violent swinging of an ugly chandelier in the middle of the hall.

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