Nepali Times
Economic Sense
Deadend nation


KOLKATA-The brief escapist interlude that Prashant Tamang provided is over. Dasain is eagerly awaited, but the situation in the tarai, the petrol shortage and the postponement of elections has dampened everyone's spirits.

Here in Kolkata, the Beed has been chatting with analysts of the Nepali-Gorkali politics. The feeling is that Gorkhaland separatists have allowed the Prashant phenomenon to get into their heads and are planning to start up the agitation. So, we have nothing but political uncertainty to look forward to on both sides of the Mechi border. Business organizations fail when they shift the goal posts of their vision and objectives. The way PKD, BB & Co have now shunned their business objective of holding the constituent assembly election, they have become like a manufacturer who is marketting a product that it doesn't want to sell anymore. Like in business, the cost of changing objectives can be very high.

Businesses also use unscrupulous ways to tame the competition, just as ruthless politicians do. The Maoists have tried to do the same in intimidating the media, but it is difficult to do that and also keep one's own organisation and credibility intact. The fight for justice, inclusion and the voices of the marginalised has suddenly lost its most committed crusader.

The Beed gives up trying to predict what will happen next. The situation is so fluid anything could happen. The bear run in the stock market and the sudden lull in land transactions should serve as a warning. The new-found zeal amongst the tourism entrepreneurs has also been shaken and everyone has their fingers crossed about political uncertainty during the autumn season.

The absence of governance and the more worrying absence of government from large parts of the country is doing nothing to boost investor confidence. We move from one Power Summit to another Power Summit with more hours of power cuts. People in government blatantly lie and don't keep commitments, they should expect even the investors who are here to leave in disgust.

We cannot talk about doing infrastructure projects when one cannot buy insurance policies in the global market that can cover the risk in Nepal. Nepal had lost on a lot of opportunities due to the political wrangling that began even before the war. The political myopia then was staggering, today it's just more of the same. It's as if the war never happened. A country with very good prospects and great potential is slipping further and further back in all global rankings. Pretty soon we won't even make it to the charts.

What the people of Nepal (and not Kathmandu) need are opportunities of engagement in enterprises, self-employment and jobs in infrastructure projects, not endless political wrangling. We should be working to make the UN redundant so they can pack up their bags and leave ASAP. We need multinationals to invest so they can harness Nepali resources and talents, so they don't have to go abroad to work for meager salaries.

What Nepal needs are opportunities for the growing population of Nepali youth who have a more global perspective and are more competitive than before. In these uncertain times, the people who can deliver certainty emerge as heroes. The king had an opportunity five years ago which he squandered. Everyone needs to learn from that lesson.

Dasain is celebration time after all, but it is better to drink to certainty than the pains of uncertainty!

Wishing readers a sacrifice-free Dasain; more slaughtering will not deliver a better Nepal!

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)