Nepali Times
Under My Hat
Gross National Holiday Index


We have known for quite some time now that existing indicators of development do not give a true picture of a nation's well-being. Going by GNP per capita, for example, Nepal is somewhere at the bottom of the heap, whereas we know it for a fact that our country is actually quite advanced in more ways than one. But because this is such a closely guarded secret, most of us are not aware that Nepal is actually an Economic Tiger. Meow. And we have no one to blame but ourselves-here we are wallowing in prosperity, and we don't even know it. The word has got around in deal-making circles: "Nepalis only pretend to be poor, they can pay twice as much as the going rate for arms and dams. Just make sure you go through the right channels."

All this affluence is now becoming a disadvantage. That is why we need to find new and more accurate ways to measure development so that we can do justice to our national pride. The King of Bhutan, worried that his citizens were becoming rather sad, had the right idea and embarked on a campaign to raise his country's Gross National Happiness. And today, as we know, Bhutan in general is a glad place. Nepal, too, must find the right indicators and statistics to prove that it is rich so that we can at last start openly flaunting our wealth. Some ideas:

* The Gross National Holiday Index (GNHI). Going by this parameter, Nepal is one of the most productive nations on earth. Our civil servants, schools and industries are closed for 217 days in a year giving us a GNHI of 65%, and despite that we still manage to get all our work done. EU countries with very low GNHI have now come to realise that they need to loosen up if they are to catch up. We in Nepal are slacking off, though. How come we didn't get a national holiday when the Minister of Foreign Objects returned from Burma, or when the Tourist Minister went to Madrid? Vigilance. That is what is required if we are to maintain our GNHI lead.

* Parliament Not Functioning Days Quotient (PNFDQ). This is an indicator of how vibrant democracy is in a particular country. With a PNFDQ of 0.9, Nepal is right up there with vivacious democracies like North Korea, Bihar, or Saint Kitts and Nevis.

* Corruption Prevalence Ratio (CPR) is arrived at by calculating the square root of the total GDP with the wealth-redistribution potential for this important sector of the informal economy and multiplying it with an inverse decimal for the public expenditure as a part of total budget. For example if 35 percent of the bureaucracy is actually moonlighting as Commercial Desk Workers (CDW) then that gives us a CPR of 0.0006, at par with countries like Equatorial Guinea
or Vanuatu.

* Instant Noodle Index (INI). Asia's economic tigers have shown, that there is a direct correlation between the consumption of noodles and purchasing power parity. Nepal's exponential growth in instant noodle production gives us an INI of 9.9-the same quality of life as Taiwan or Singapore.

*Beer Belly Barometer (BBB). The more beer a country brews, the more powerf ul it is. Just as Germany is now Europe's economic engine, Nepal's BBB has now expanded the per capita girth of an average Nepali, giving us the status of a Regional Beer Power.

There are many more indices that prove that we are a country on the move, but I have just been informed that unbeknownst to us all, today has been declared a national holiday because our Minister for Thumb Twiddling, Procrastination and Local Development has returned from the Third International Conference on the Impact of International Conferences on Greenhouse Gas Emissions that took place in Sao Tome and Principe last week.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)