Nepali Times Asian Paints
Economic Sense


As I sat down to write my final column, I went through the collection of my articles online Ė after 10 years as a columnist, you forget how and where it all began. Kunda Dixit, the man who pushed me into starting this column from issue zero, told me that I was the last columnist to have been here from the first.

It has been a long time since I adopted the persona 'Arthabeed', in collaboration with Kunda Dixit and Binod Bhattarai. I enjoyed the anonymity in the initial years and the guessing game till Arthabeed's first public appearance at the fifth anniversary of Nepali Times. The joy of living another character has been amusing, like an avatar you create online. You have the freedom to vent your anger, think aloud, and of course give advice as a personality that people recognise. Arthabeed witnessed the most eventful phases of Nepali political and economic history. When the column began, we had a constitutional monarchy and the insurgency had started to get really nasty. Then the royal massacre took place, crowning a new monarch who later imposed direct rule. His failed attempt paved the way for a republican Nepal, and we elected a constituent assembly to write a new constitution for a new Nepal.

The ten years saw good governance and the national economy losing out to party politics and those keen on personal gain. While our neighbours grew at an express rate, our politicians were content in clinging to whatever power they could grab, providing jobs to family, extended family and party cadres and of course, hopping onto junkets abroad. Decentralisation took place, in corruption rather than power, and a new vocabulary gained currency in economic analysis: bandas, unions, and extortion. Graft became more chic as deals shifted to the coffee shops of five-star hotels. Plundering natural resources for personal gain was the best business one could be in.

New age chakari, or the display of sycophancy through messages of congratulations or condolence, provided good sources of revenue to media houses feeling the heat of a failing economy. The architecture of management changed as unions dictated to owners and the owners, instead of managing businesses, became busy managing associations and chambers. The numbers of financial institutions soared; every second person was a promoter of XYZ Finance. It was a decade of taking speculative positions for gains that a sane financial and economic world would never deliver. Asset prices started to stagnate and non-performing assets at banks started to build up. Phew Ė how eventful.

But this beed enjoyed looking at the silver lining in the dark clouds ó in the emergence of art forms, in lifestyle changes, in the bright lights of party palaces, in the launches of shopping malls, and in the lines of stores real international brands were opening up. Barefoot, ragged poster boys and girls for the donors were replaced by Nepalis decked out in cheap Chinese jackets and shoes. Mobile phone penetration brought in an unprecedented revolution of connection. The media prospered through community radio, broadsheet dailies, and some hard-hitting television programs. Village roads connected more destinations and there was a significant increase in access to financial services. Lifestyles went through significant changes; people became open to holidaying abroad and spending money on hobbies. You just need to stand on a busy street and watch the movement of people, you'll see things have definitely changed in the last decade. But whether it's confidence or arrogance, one cannot say.

Meanwhile the remittance economy kept the decade afloat, upholding our economic history that survived on money sent by Gurkhas and Lahures. Aid continued to pour in (though I have consistently wondered aloud about the productivity of each dollar of aid). Despite the political mess, we still stayed afloat!

It was the readers who inspired me the most and the beed has now transformed into a brand-driven management consulting and advisory company ( There are many beeds now and there will be many more in the years to come. Thank you readers for encouraging me to go this far. I look forward to making occasional appearances.

Playing safe

1. hange
Adieu!  Thank you for all the articles.

2. Lesson Master
It's about time, and better late than never. 

Materially, there does not seem to be much of a difference between the content of your first column, pictured above, and this adieu column 10 years later. 

Your biggest intellectual shortcoming was that you could always talk about "failing economy" and "national economy losing out" without ever being able to connect them to what you've written in the third last paragraph above. 

Can't help wondering whether we readers' comments on your previous column made you make this exit. Like all things of this nature, could be a co-incidence!   

3. Lekh Nath Belbase
I have always enjoyed reading Arthabid and knew that you were the write. To-day also yours was the first article that I was reading siting here in Kampala, Uganda. Please continue your good work.

4. Arthabeed

@ Lekh Nath, thank you for your comments.

@ others...dont comment on people who do not have the guts to put up their names and represent the crass class of Nepal who love to criticize people behind their backs....

5. Ramji
Very many thanks to the writer for nice article. I always read your column and enjoy with it endlessly. Please keep up writing such a nice piece.

6. Chandra Gurung

The name of people got nothing to do with their comment. If you don't want to address them, all you have to do is remain silent, rather than announcing it in public that they don't have guts. People don't have to show their guts for every small thing.

Happy post Times days. We enjoyed your articles and thanks for sharing your views with us.

7. Devi-Prasad
Mr. Arthbeed, many of us ha Gutts to disclose our Name  but see I slapped Jholinath still on Tarekh by Courtiers of feudal democratic Nepal (FDR-Nepal) , we are bread earners don't interested to risk.Can you deposit one million Nrs in my account I will prove them they are culprits , no investment huge return. Biggest theory and practice of Economics not cover by you. I learn it when achieve B.A.( Brain of Ass) from T.U .

8. N Jha

Extremely sorry to see you leave on such a bitter note. However, for whatever it is worth I would say two things and I hope you would take both on a positive note.

First that bad, I really thought that you squandered a great opportunity to highlight the real economy related issues in Nepal through your column because you were not courageous enough to use your originality.

Second, the good, some of your articles were terribly insightful. Its a shame I have to say that only "some" counted in that category.

Wish you all the luck for your future plans, and success as well. You probably deserve them.

9. Abhinav
@N Jha, Chandra.. i somehow doubt that the comment above is actually from Arthabeed, it just sounds too immature. If in fact it is by him, then thats just a pitiful way to leave. 

10. Lesson Master
Arthabeed proves Lesson Master (#2) right. 

On one hand, in his last column, Arthabeed revels in the fact that he spent several years in anonymity, saying, "The joy of living another character has been amusing, like an avatar you create online. You have the freedom to vent your anger, think aloud . . ." 

On the other hand, he does not appear to have the generosity of spirit to allow others the same freedom that he said enjoyed for many years. Instead, he says, "don't comment on people who do not have the guts to put up their names and represent the crass class of Nepal who love to criticize people behind their backs...."  as though readers needed to show guts to make comments on a self-serving article!



11. Sujeev Shakya aka Arthabeed
Thank you all for your comments and surely will continue to write. It is the readers who inspire a writer and that has just kept the beed afloat for the past decade........I dont think it was to end with a bitter note....there are people who use pseudonym out of political compulsion and disclose their identity at sometime and there are people who continue to misuse identities and never emerge out of hiding.....Look forward to interact in future issues of Nepali Times....there is so much to do in Nepal and so much potential....  

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)