Unleashing Nepal: My Reflections

After going through unleashing Nepal, I can say I loved the book. In a simple language, the author has beautifully portrayed the Nepalese misfortune, but has also not missed the chance to show the light in the end of tunnel. Though last 30 pages of the book could not hold my attention as many things were repeated, the book in overall has made me feel the reality of Nepal which I already knew before.  Each chapter has either revealed some facts new to me or has presented the facts I knew from a different angle. The past and present of Nepal has been re-written not in a traditional way I used to learn in school but from an economic perspective.
Isolation has been cited as the major cause on why Nepal could not develop like its counterparts. The feudal lords felt secured in keeping it isolated and the price is being paid by Nepalese till now. The subsequent democracy was also short lived and when the CA election has been held two times, the public has lost the faith in their politicians.
Thatched Huts and Stucco Palaces, the book of Mahesh Chandra Regmi had given me the idea of the earlier feudalistic mentality of the rulers and the exploitation of the peasants through the control of land. Though Nepal has entered a democratic republic era, the system of nepotism and favoritism has continued till now.
While reading the part of development politics, I could picture myself and people around me in the sentences written. Having worked in the development sector from the early days of my life, the scenario is a donor driven rather than need based and the impact is assessed in terms of number of reports written. As far as I have come across, some are doing a really good job while the majority are here for the easy money that comes through it. A large number of colleges have offered courses addressing the need of this sector and the colleges offering Development Studies and Social Work has grown considerably with the students pursuing this course getting even larger. Even with deeper analysis I have found the children of those working in the UN and other INGOs were particularly attracted to this course. With growing students, there is competition but only among those whose parents are not associated with any one of the INGOs because it is Nepal and what works here is the networks. When my juniors come and seek advice from me to pursue these course, I don’t know what to say. I want to ask them to join a vocational course, something technical rather than to join a course which will make you talk more and deliver less.
I have heard from some businessman that opening a business in Nepal is not just about paying tax and taking care of own business. One has to take care of the interest of local dons in the region and the regional politicians too. Another part of doing business is about the labor force too and in the book it is often mentioned about the militant labor force in the country. During my undergraduate in 2011, I had pursued the project work on the “Implementation Status of Collective Bargaining in Balaju Industrial Area”. In three years of time I don’t know if the situation has changed, but the entire Industrial Area had the dominance of Maoist Labor Union. While visiting the trade union offices of respective three parties namely Congress, UML and CPN Maoist, I found that in terms of research and publication of labor related issues, UML was more structured followed by Congress and CPN Maoist. I was particularly impressed by the way the President of GEFONT Bishnu Rimal welcomed me and personally gave me an idea of the overall collective bargaining and the situation at present. The executive members of the trade unions were the ones to be well aware of the collective bargaining process while the members were not well aware of. I also had the chance to visit the labor office situated at Teku. While going through the collective bargaining papers, I found some demands by the trade unions were really ridiculous while some were genuine too. Thus, what I see there was that trade union were more politicized and were not well aware of what they are established for.
While studying in India for two years in South, I met so many Nepalese working there especially in hotels and restaurants. The Big Chicken of Mysore was filled by the Nepalese waiter and the MOMO center in Mysore was only owned by the Nepalese. Studying in India changed my attitude towards India to a greater extent. While we are filled with the negative attitude towards India, I found India has a lot more business to take care of and Nepal is just a little country for them and sometimes even an Indian state. While we are so much keenly interested about India, they are not interested about us like we are about them. Then why too much negativity. They don’t backbite about us like we do for them. So, keeping aside the personal bias, India is more a market for us now which we need to capitalize. Moreover when my foreign friends used to bully India, I felt pinched because of the socio-cultural relation with them. Thousands of Nepalese go to India to visit holy places and Indians feel it as an obligation to come to Pashupatinath to worship. We have a deep socio-cultural ties and we are often engulfed by the same socio-cultural problems which we can tackle and capitalize together.
Tourism, Hydropower, Agriculture and Infrastructure are the four sectors that the author has recommended for investment in Nepal. The author has emphasized about the importance of private sector participation in each sector and how well can Nepal capitalize if proper investments can be done by embracing privatization and globalization. The examples of Dabur Nepal, Bhotekoshi Hydro Power Plant and the community schools were encouraging.
Nepal is still lingering in BS and AD, while the world has moved forward with the universal AD. Though we are 57 years ahead of the world in the numeric form, the circumstances shows the opposite scenario. Bikram Sambat is derived from the lunar calendar of Hindu. India has associated itself with the globalized world leaving the lunar calendar where as we are still following the same. Moreover, while talking about English Language, we give examples of Japan, South Korea and China on how they could develop without English but in our case, I think we cannot replicate them as we don’t have the sufficient base as they had.
The fact based evidences has made the read more interesting. Some phrases in the book were so worth noting: In areas were state utility is absent, communities are paying market prices to ensure there is an uninterrupted supply of electricity. The challenge is in working with communities whose expectations have increased significantly partly because of politician who tend to promise everything under the sun while not delivering.

I feel the situation is improving somewhat. My friends who used to say that they will never return to Nepal once they went abroad are telling me that they will return and invest in Nepal. My friend who is in US right now and I often chat on where she can invest when she returns, though we don’t have any financial security right now. Some young people I know are investing in their village because now it’s the rural areas that hold the money be it in terms of tourism, hydropower, agriculture or infrastructure.


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