|China's State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan, in Kathmandu.|
. The essential task of branding Nepal (see #171) is finally complete. While talking to Arun Anand and Rahul Sen, who worked relentlessly to create the 'Naturally Nepal-Once is Not Enough' campaign, it became clear that during the exercise the two explored emotions far more than most consultants would be comfortable with. However, the media handled the creation as a press release and no more. Perhaps the news got pushed aside by the usual violence, political rhetoric and 'un-rhetoric' but why did no journalist interview these people? And why didn't the plethora of marketing, advertising and trade organisations see the branding as just the first step in creating a buzz about Nepal? This exercise must not be allowed to go the same way as the Kathmandu-Lhasa bus service.
. Last week's visit of a senior Chinese leader, apart from creating a perceived sense of legitimacy for the government, did result in some interesting economic developments. Duty free entry for more than 1,500 Nepali goods! This should all make us jump for joy. But like many such announcements, this one was short on details. What is on that list? Where in China can they be sent to? And how? The questions are many but the answers few. As someone at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the Beed, China is far more willing to invest in trying to reach Nathu La in Sikkim with roads, railways, transmission lines and gas pipelines than waste energy to stimulate Nepal to consider how it might take advantage of its transit position.
. The review of the Bikram Era calendar will surely get Nepal more space in National Geographic and more airtime on the History channel. (see # 268) What else can we expect from a leadership that is stuck at the start of the 21st century? I Can never understand our love for this calendar. Mobile phones of the future are not going to cater to a Bikram calendar nor will you be able to download Bikram schedules of your favourite tv shows on your P DAs or iPods. No global stock markets would be happy to see settlement dates of transactions in Chaitra I or Chaitra 2, the outsourcing industry will only take off if we shed this myopia. In today's world, 24x7x365 refers to the Gregorian calendar-we need to embrace world culture or we are fated to remain a living museum of medieval practices.
Nepali society needs more pluralistic thinking, more liberal debates on issues. Since politics is a debate we are sick of, why not start one on economic and business issues. Then we could depend less on international wire services to fill our newspaper pages.