Nepali Times
Economic Sense
Celebrating life


Jaipur: After 12 years, this Beed wonders at how little time it takes for transformation to happen. People will pay the equivalent of Rs 1000 in toll fares just to drive through a well-maintained highway. The conclusion is that it's important to let private concessionaires lead road development projects as people will pay for good roads - as the Beed did in driving down to the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). Interestingly, one of the festival's sponsors is a company involved in infrastructure construction.

The fifth JLF had a carnival setting, where many writers from different parts of the world jostled with each other for seats at an impressive range of debates and readings. What was most evident was the creative energy in the air. There were good vibes all over.

There are always discussions on how much affluence and economic growth fuel creativity. Perhaps the JLF is a case in point. The plethora of companies, institutions and brands that supported the initiative demonstrates how small contributions from many players can make such events successful. Among the sponsors were investment banks, which know a good investment when they see one. It is not easy to get hundreds of writers to Jaipur and take care of them for five days!

JLF also demonstrated India's power in the emerging world economic order. Would writers have flocked to India 20 years ago for a literature festival? India is now the market. With 300 million plus English-speaking people, you would have to be a fool not to want to be there. Chetan Bhagat's literary skills may have been questioned, but at least he has introduced young Indians to the English novel. Future writers in the region must thank him for making books popular. This is also a big message for aspiring Nepali writers: if one can follow Bhagat's model in the region, you might break some interesting records.

The media's involvement in the event also shows the kind of productive role it can play. The festival was well covered in the international press too, which means more people will return to the event next year. Even non-sponsoring media groups covered these events. Another lesson for Nepal. Here, media houses have this peculiar habit of not covering events sponsored by rival media houses, such as what happened during the Capital Market Expo. It is time to grow up and work towards collective promotion of events of interest to the public.

Another other big leap India has taken is that events like JLF are now managed very professionally by companies set up for the purpose. The coordination and preparation of the festival, which included over 100 planning sessions, was impressive. This is another lesson for those institutions in Nepal that put on great events, but don't outsource management responsibilities to a specialised firm.

The JLF, which is a must for all art-lovers, will hopefully see more Nepali faces and perhaps even a Nepal-centred event next year. In fact the Beed is toying with the idea of hosting a similar show in Nepal in April 2011. All volunteers are welcome!

1. jange
Private sector good, public sector bad. Is that it? I hope the Beed hasn't fallen into that trap.

2. Rishi
Last week, I was complaining about how the business column was being used for political blabbering. And now this week, we have the economics column covering a literary event. What's wrong with this newspaper?

3. Mooni
@Rishi- You are showing your ignorance in an, to use an Americanism, anal-retentive manner. A columnist at a general-interest newspaper, such as this one, has all the latitude from his or her editor to write on just about any topic he or she wants. It does not matter what the name of the column is. That is the privilege of being a columnist at a general-interest newspaper, which tends to cover many areas broadly. Readers too are free to either read or ignore such columns, as they see fit. In 1999, New York Times hired Paul Krugman as an economics columnist. Krugman, a Greek-letter economist, used his twice-weekly bully pulpit not to talk about economics but to write politically charged (i.e. flamingly liberal) pieces against the Bush Whitehouse for many years. By your logic, what was or is "wrong" with NYT? Come on! If you want specific details about the economy and business, subscribe to business-focused publications and blogs, which tend to cover narrow topics in greater depth. As a Nepalese finance professional working abroad, I subscribe to Wall Street Journal (online) and numerous finance-related blogs, which give me the meat to stew for my work.For general-interest "broad strokes" views, I read NYT, this newspaper and others, without always agreeing with the columnists. What do you read? Naya Sandesh?

4. Rishi
This comment has been removed by the moderator.

5. mangal
"People will pay the equivalent of Rs 1000 in toll fares just to drive through a well-maintained highway. The conclusion is that it's important to let private concessionaires lead road development projects as people will pay for good roads" "Among the sponsors were investment banks, which know a good investment when they see one." could you please care to elaborate good for whom? the investment bankers' fat paychecks? the shareholders or the society? wow this is some economic analysis! anything and everything relating to the society may fall into 'economics' but this article is anything but analysis.

6. jange
Mr. Mangal, there is little point in complaining. You do not pay the author's salary. Remember, whoever pays the piper alls the tune. As long as his editor is happy...

7. Siddha
people seem to be skimming the column than understanding the spirit of the content. To me this is neither about literature nor private sponsors but purely economic transformation Jaipur or India has achieved over the last one decade. And true that it can happen in Nepal. Isn't this enough economic sense?

8. Prosi
I am following the column from Arthabeed since I was study in Europe for 7 years ago. Now I am working in Kathmandu. As  said by Mooni, the columnist could write any topic she/he wants.  Jaipur Literature Festival is truly written in economic sense.  The Government sector have develops slowly in Nepal but not as the private sector. If  you went to Pay tax, you will be treat like Criminal. It was horror for me as I went first time to pay tax for my company. If Private sector will invest in building roads, I am sure people will definitely   pay for the good roads. In Europe most of the city and highway you have to pay toll to drive in and out.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)