Nepali Times
Economic Sense
Lessons from Terror


New Delhi: The Mumbai blasts brought the mayhem of a South Asian city to our living rooms, sending a chill down the spine of every urbanite. Any city could be a target and terror does not pay any regard to identity, religion or nationality. In the hotel lobbies of Delhi guests and staff looked anxious, some mourning the loss of friends, relatives and acquaintances.

The Mumbai mayhem has taught us many lessons and surely Nepal will not be unaffected by the events that unfold. This Beed often wonders what has cursed our tourism industry. Every time we see the tourism scenario improving, events outside our control affect the industry. With India being subject to strict travel advice and warnings, there's bound to be a direct ripple effect on tourists coming to Nepal. The shutdown of the Bangkok airport did not help either as Nepal's gateway both from the east and west was affected.

Nepali political leaders who have taken security lightly resulting in increased criminal activities in the country, need to take this as a wake-up call. There is a thin line that separates crime and terror or revolution and terrorism. We need to understand not to take criminal activities or the violation of rule of law lightly. This Beed has also been harping on about our preparedness to tackle the aftermath of disasters be they natural or terror-made. A serious plan needs to be prepared for such events without delay.

The Mumbai blasts are also going to provide a great business opportunity to security and weapons companies - hopefully the United States will not use this as one means of digging its way out of its current recession. Post 9/11 there were numerous multi billon dollar companies created in the name of tackling security and terror. Hopefully the region will not follow suit and will rationally distinguish between products that are must-haves and products that are superfluous to needs.

For the hydropower developers the bad news is that following the Mumbai attacks, insurance costs are going to increase. With Nepal having no credit rating and no dedicated insurance market, premiums are going to shoot up drastically.

The Mumbai attacks send another clear example of young people who are lured in to put their own lives into danger, be it for ideology or quick bucks. The ten year people's war showed how young people are willing to actually pick up a gun for people who promise them the world. Nepal already has a history of supplying mercenaries in foreign uniform. Surely it does not want to become the next recruiting ground for insane fighters. This will not only damage the image of the country but leave a mark that can make you really stigmatised. Ask young Pakistanis in the UK.

Every big jolt provides plenty of lessons to learn from. It should make us realise the vital need for intelligence, effective security apparatus, a quick response to disasters and the necessity of rule of law and for governments to take their duties seriously. It draws attention to the damaging effects of unregulated competing television channels and most importantly, the pitiful state of South Asian politics where death and mayhem are always used for political capital.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)