Nepali Times
Economic Sense
The business of peace


Though lots of Kathmanduites talk about the need for peace, the numbers don't add up when it comes demonstrating their support for the business of peace. However, on Monday evening at Maitighar and at Basantapur on Tuesday morning, the peaceniks took to the streets.

Last Saturday, the Beed watched groups of Peace Corps volunteers at Hotel Yak Yeti preparing to leave, still unsure of why they were being pulled out. The continuous flow of advisories have never helped the business of peace. Now diplomatic missions and other offices have to weigh the pros and cons of destroying an economy that affects many in order to save the jobs of a few.

On World Peace Day, the leaders were back to shouting slogans and snarling traffic. Whenever there is even a hint of peace, they all appear again to destroy that chance, proving they aren't serious about the business of peace.

Peace is an important issue for Nepal's neighbours too, since disruptions can easily spread to their own territories. A good example of this is how unrest in Indian towns and villages affected neighbouring regions of southern Bhutan as well. Although the Nepali delegation to India seemed satisfied that Deve Gowda hosted a dinner for the prime minister, India and Nepal need to do a lot more to ensure peace.

The donor community uses the phrase 'conflict resolution' to keep funding consultants, conferences, workshops and seminars, but there is no guarantee that this will lead to peace. The agenda may need to therefore change from conflict resolution to peace restoration. Of course, the less said of the government the better. It can't restore peace because, first and foremost, it has never shown any intention of doing so. The business of arms and war are vastly more tempting than the business of peace.

As always, it is sad to see that the business community remains largely indifferent. Here the Beed strongly endorses fellow columnist Ashutosh Tiwari's suggestion ('Rising from the ashes', #214) that a Business Initiative for Peace be created. Genuine businesses can only thrive and grow in the absence of conflict. There are businesses that thrive in chaos and strife, but the Beed hopes that that is not what most Nepali businesses do, or wish to do.

We are in a do-or-die situation. Tourism has been hit hard, industries are suffering and the business of remittances through labour export has also been affected. The sense of insecurity is high and the options for resolution are low. In villages, where people are willing to walk four hours to a water sprout or two hours to a school, Nepalis are willing to bear any hardship for peace. Economics suggest that when the demand is at its peak, that is best time to ensure supply.

The crux of the issue is that the business of peace needs to be taken seriously. This business surely has the best short, medium and longterm returns. This business benefits every Nepali as a stakeholder and provides every opportunity to return Nepal to what all would like it to be. That is why we have to applaud the initiative taken this week by informal citizens' groups to campaign for peace.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)