First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: For holistic development, every nation has to face various challenges and threats including socio-politico-cultural, economic, technological, legal and educational ones both externally and internally. Every nation, after political transformation, steps forward towards economic advancement with the single goal of prosperity.
Nepal, an underdeveloped nation, has achieved a great political transformation with the establishment of new state structures—federalism, inclusiveness, proportional representation, socialism-oriented constitution and a republic structure—after much sacrifice involving various armless movements and armed rebellions.
However, after the promulgation of the new constitution, periodic elections and the formation of a stable government too, our nation has still been unable to step onto the track of development and prosperity. In fact, we have been rather late in initiating an economic revolution to transform the nation.
As Nepal is full of opportunities in various sectors like agriculture, tourism, water resources, herbal medicines, mines and minerals, and art and culture, it is not very difficult to develop the nation if we can have people with long-term and short-term vision working in the appropriate positions with unity and integrity. To usher in an economic revolution, which is a tedious process, Nepal will face many challenges as the entire system is riddled with discrepancies.
Socio-politico-cultural reality plays a vital role in economic development of any nation as it is deeply rooted in the people and forms the base of all the structures on which the nation stands. On the way to economic prosperity, our social and cultural norms, values, beliefs and principles based on fatalism, superstition and caste-hierarchy are the greatest hurdles, which apparently paralyze people and make them passive along with promoting the divide and rule policy. Though we proudly claim that ‘unity in diversity’ is the strength of Nepal as we are a multilingual, multi-religious, multiethnic and multicultural nation, it is actually not true as fragmentation, rather than integration, prevails in the nation.
There is no emotional integrity, tolerance or communal adjustment. Social and cultural rigidity based on status quo principles prevent the free use of resources and critical facultythat are inevitable for economic transformation. Moreover, politics, the governing idea, contributes to change the holistic structure of the nation. Ideal-based politics with simplicity-based behaviors can lead to prosperity whereas the self-interest-guided politics takes a nation downhill towards failure. Due to deviation in political practices, impunity, corruption, nepotism, instability and lack of check-and-balance system the political culture in Nepal has been destroyed. ‘Work is worship’, ‘right man in right place’ ‘will power for change’, ‘long-term and short-term vision and plan’, the major mantras necessary for economic revolution, are beyond our political structure, ideal and practice. Both politically and culturally, we have been distracted and so we lack a sense of duty and responsibility towards accountability and transparency. Furthermore, we lack diplomatic and balanced foreign relations with a unanimous national voicein foreign policy. The political leaders, bureaucrats, police and military officers, journalists and intellectuals are being used by foreign nations to benefit their cause in a covert manner. These objective socio-politico-cultural realities are the greatest obstacles today for economic revolution.
Legal structures, provisions and solutions to problems are essential for national prosperity. Rule of law, independent and fair judiciary, constitutional supremacy and good governance are the building blocks of any developed nation.However, law itself hinders the smooth functioning of developmental programs here. The mandatory provision of issuing tender, granting the contract to the lowest bidder, priority given to the black-listed but politically connected contractors, lack of proper monitoring of the task progress, role of commission and broker system and the middlemen culture hamper and impede the way to economic revolution.The real laborers, farmers and professionals are sidelined by the law and various dons and brokers are accorded priority. As a matter of fact, lawlessness prevails everywhere; the politicians and other power brokers are above the law and do what they please.
To make things worse, the judiciary system also has not been left untouched by malfeasance. The judiciary too is totally corrupt and dysfunctional due to political interference. It cannot work fairly and in an independent manner. We have the culture of interpreting lawsto suit our cause which destroys its very spirit.Only the common people with no direct link to the politicians have to abide by the law. Moreover, the innocent get punished but those who are the actual culprits are instead rewarded and allowed to freely demolish the system of the nation.
The law in its true sense is really blind as it can’t see crimes, robberies, thefts, violence, murders, exploitation of nation, sale of national properties, corruption (treason), money laundering and violation of the law itself. Literally, all the bodies of the nation are polluted, corrupt and politically-infected in such a way that, figuratively speaking, no single river can wash and clean them. Furthermore, the date when our budget is announced is also inappropriate. The timing of the budget is such that soon after it is announced we have the rainy season followed by Dashain and Tihar,two big festivals, which prevent the implementation of the plans and policies in the budget. Lawlessness, violation of law, impunity and the biased legal provisions and procedures are the thorns on the path to economic revolution.
Development Culture and Entrepreneurship
Economic revolution results only from development culture and right entrepreneurship. Nepal, a poverty-stricken backward nation, lacks development culture. We are unable to set development goals, plans and strategies, allocate a realistic budget in a timely manner and establish appropriate contract and bidding process. We also have not been able to utilize our rich resources and monitor the work progress of projects.
We lack the will power to work and maintain a strict discipline in schedule. In short, we are not loyal to our work. It is sad but a fact that in our country brokers, middlemen, contractors, money launderers and corrupt money makers are respected instead of the honest employees, farmers and laborers who are the backbone of economic development of a nation. Moreover, the nation recognizes only business tycoons and compradors and not the real workers and nation builders. We lack the culture of team work, coordination, cooperation and collective task fulfillment. Likewise, we also do not possess unity to achieve our goals, economic management and use of technology and expert skills for development.
Likewise, our entrepreneurship is also not based on national development and economic prosperity agendas. The entrepreneurs focus on imports rather than exports and never strive to establish industries and factories which can uplift the economic condition of the nation. In addition, comprador capitalism is dominant here.
The nation collectively is irresponsible towards national businesses, companies, manufacturing industries and collection distribution centers. The market economy has controlled the state economy. Furthermore, national economy is being adversely hit as capital is flowing out to foreign countries.We do not have any policy to promote tourism and small domestic businesses.Nepal also lags behind in global and local connectivity for sustainable development. We also have unequal hierarchical trade treaties. The country lacks large initial economic sources for economic revolution.Black marketing, soaring prices, adulteration, lack of farmer’s access to market and globalization-flattened business economy have put a brake in our step towards economic revolution.
Technology and Human Capital
Resources—natural, technological, economic, human—are the foundation for the development of a nation and we have to realize that development is not possible through false and intangible promises. Nepal has abundant natural resources but we lack other resources. Technology, money and experts are a must for other activities like excavation of mines, production of goods and their distribution, and agricultural production.
Due to poverty and illiteracy in technology, natural resources have been left unutilized and even when the resources are used to some extent they are not properly utilized because of various interest groups dominant in the state power. The so-called experts are also guided by capitalist traders and business syndicates. Moreover, they serve the interests of the political leaders instead of the nation.
We only have manual laborers without any kind of training or expertise in their related field of work. Our nation can’t afford expensive technology and hire foreign technicians as we lack the needed finances. Furthermore, our state power, politicians and government bodies lack the will power to initiate economic development because of which our water resources have become useless.
Nepal is losing human capital—skilled and unskilled—as young and energetic people are migrating every day with only the children and aged people staying back. The government sorely lacks a policy to retain these able-bodies adults and rather focuses on remittance. We still depend on traditional technologies and have no access to advanced technologies. Though technology advances human life, we are not literate enough in using it and moreover unable to afford it, which have stopped us from bringing about an economic revolution.
Education and Research/Analysis
Education and research are the foundations of national as well as human civilizational development. They reflect the image of every nation. Nepal still follows the traditional theory-based educational system instead of focusing on practical, experimental, vocational, professional and research-oriented one. Instead of modern knowledge production model, the traditional knowledge transference model exists in our education sector which makes students just passive learners and is destroying their critical and creative potentialities.
Nepalese politicians and leaders have even not thought about research in agriculture, herbal medicine, mine excavation and other potential sectors in our land. Actually, we lack a research culture due to our habit of enjoying the status quo or regression rather than progression.
Moreover, even the low amount of budget that is allocated for education and research has been misused to prepare reports and documents without any practical implementation. The entire educational structure and culture is riddled by privatization. The most astonishing and dreadful thing is that even the communist politicians and governments here are promoting privatization in education, health and other researches.
The educational system has been literally hijacked by the education mafia under the protection of the government. The problem of brain drain has become dire as more students, intellectuals and experts are moving out of the country for study and research.Furthermore, the Nepalese education and research system is not productive and result-oriented; it is only ritualistic. Our government has failed to conduct a research on the competing global economy and is also unable to promote scientific innovations and centers initiated by people like Mahabir Pun.
The major problem is we have failed to conduct an objective research or analysis of the reality that exists within us.Lack of research-based state-owned educational system is the greatest hindrance in economic revolution here.
To sum up, though Nepal has been successful in its political transformation and holds the potential and opportunities in various sectors like agriculture, herbal medicine and water resources, due to the socio-politico-cultural backwardness, inappropriate legal provisions and lack of development culture we have not been able to materialize our potential.
Lack of entrepreneurship, use of traditional technology and the failure to retain human capital have also affected our development goals. Another aspect that has adversely affected us in our path towards prosperity is the lack of research-based practical educational system.
The government’s slogan ‘Prosperous Nepal Happy Nepali’ is also limited to paper only. Though time is slowly running out the government seems unconcerned about initiating an economic revolution and is stuck in the conventional system that is deeply rooted in each and every state power and structure. If the government keeps moving ahead in the same corrupt and visionless manner, the economic revolution that every citizen desires will remain a dream only.
Dhungel is the Permanent Faculty of Tribhuvan University, Department of English and view expressed in the article is his own.
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