It's heartening to see that my article 'NRN manifesto' caught the eye, and even the ire, of fellow NRNs gathered for the 4th Global Conference. That the rebuttal is from a founding and tirelessly active member of the movement is a particular joy.
My purpose was to ask questions to stimulate clearer discussions about what the NRN movement stands for, and how to address the anomalies that occur when we have multiple objectives. It was not seeking to blame anyone or put down the NRN movement.
Sharda Jung Thapa's piece provides some of these answers, but I wish it had elaborated on the anomalies. If I am unaware of the real objectives and workings of the NRN, then perhaps there are many more like me who should be enlightened.
I already expressed my approval for a NRN movement that advances the private interests of its members in Nepal and overseas, whether in commerce or culture. The cultural connection was not noted in my column, but I acknowledge this is a valued dimension.
Yet from the very beginning the NRN movement has been invoking a special mantra about helping Nepal and resident Nepalis as much as helping its members. And the investment route is identified as one of the key channels for this patriotic duty. So to me, and more importantly to the millions of resident Nepalis, the sine qua non of the NRN movement is NRN investment in Nepal. This is what I strongly object to. If this image branding of the NRN movement is not what the NRN leadership desires, then the NRN manifesto needs to be amended, without pride of place for the $100 million global NRN Fund.
I am all for the NRN movement using its clout to improve the investment climate in Nepal, and for championing changes to citizenship rules so that more and more productive resources are invested in the motherland. But make these provisions apply to all foreigners who invest in Nepal. The NRN movement may not be asking for special treatment of NRN investors relative to other resident investors, but by its very name it is championing special rights for foreign investors with Nepali ethnicity compared to non-Nepali foreigners. Why? Our funds will not be super-productive or get the job done better than alternative sources of investment funds. In fact, potential large NRN investors who are also in leadership roles in the NRN movement may have huge conflicts of interest between their private and organisational dealings.
If my call for non-discriminatory treatment of all foreign investors in Nepal leaves patriotic NRNs seemingly unfulfilled, perhaps the Ministry of Finance should have a 'patriot tax' whereby dual citizenship is granted to those willing to pay a small, say 1%, tax on their global earnings. In return, every two years they can hobnob in Kathmandu with the political and business leadership of Nepal, unveil statues, and for the especially patriotic, have streets named after them.
Not strictly business, by Sharda Jung Thapa - FROM ISSUE #473 (23 OCT 2009 - 29 OCT 2009)
The NRN manifesto, by Prem Jung Thapa - FROM ISSUE #471 (09 OCT 2009 - 15 OCT 2009)
Intelligent options, by Biswo Podel - FROM ISSUE #471 (09 OCT 2009 - 15 OCT 2009)