Time To Change Focus For Development
Dr Balmukunda Regmi
For decades, Nepal was stranded in political issues. With the embracement of a republic system, promulgation of new constitution and elections of all level representatives, it should be considered that the major political changes have been institutionalised. Tolerating the reservations and priorities in distribution of facilities, opportunities, resources and state power to different groups of people under different headings, all Nepali citizens have become equal in terms of law and rules. Further depriving the talents and industrialists of growth opportunities, either in the name of social justice or through creation of economic and non-economic barriers, will lead to brain drain and national poverty in long-term. To make the new political era fruitful, we need to change the focus of our policy and adopt methods to match with developmental strategies.
No need to prove, all Nepalese want to build Nepal into a peaceful prosperous country, that offers its citizens security, equal opportunity for employment, growth, feeling of belongingness, dignity, the rule of law, equity in the distribution of wealth and resources, no discriminatory laws and practices, without unreasonable distinction as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, ethnic or social origin, property, birth, or other status.
Nepali people know the opportunity and limitations offered by the geopolitical location of their country. Promotion of good neighbourhood policy in the best interest of Nepal should be our core foreign policy. Knowing that it is an extension of domestic policy, as far as possible we should emphasise on bilateral dealings when working with India and China. Of course, we should utilise multilateral, regional and international forums where appropriate.
Increasing the domestic productivity is one of the most urgent tasks before us. No doubt, we can boost our economy by maximum utilisation of the remittance and tourism but we should also make preparations in case the inflow of remittance and tourists decreases. In long-term, we can get rid of trade deficit by adopting a bilateral trade policy that does not overlook bilateral trade deficit and restricts the import of non-essential products and services from such partners. Issues like climate change, terrorism, human trafficking, regional trade, transportation, water resources, environment and its pollution, peace and war may have to be dealt at regional or global levels.
Learning from the past, Nepal must develop a foreign policy through domestic consensus. We should remember that foreigners look at us in wholesome and not individually; a citizen of a weak country gets a weak consideration at best. Our domestic differences should be solved through dialogue, understanding, mutual respect and trust; we should not seek outside mediation and meddling.
According to a latest data available at the Department of Foreign Employment, a total of 639,167 aspirant migrant workers left for various countries in the last fiscal year 2016/17, fifty two per cent up from the previous FY 2015/16. The economic cost of bringing up a child from conception to 18 years of age is enormous. But most of our youths working abroad make a meager living even for themselves; forget about paying back support to their parents and bringing up their offspring. We should pay attention to the fact that we have been wasting our workforce as if it were unlimited, costless renewable stuff. Our greed for remittance has left many areas barren, families broken, children orphaned, elderly deserted. It will produce more severe social and psychological consequences than economic.
Our civil servants, university and school teachers, and all employees who receive direct or indirect government money are highly polarised and have been mobilised in party interests. If such role was justifiable in the past, it is no more, that open competitive political system has been institutionalised. Academic freedom should be honoured, expression of differing viewpoints should be encouraged, and each citizen should be allowed to propose policies for the benefit of the nation and mankind. But the political parties should stop inciting mass protests, including ones involving students and trade unions, to get public attention.
You are the vanguard of economy, your industries and trades are the backbone. You need technical and nontechnical manpower to keep the business moving. Well trained and well fed workers can bring a good, quality yield. You should come with concrete ideas, suggestions, understandings and plans, talk to the government, receive a consistent policy assurance and enter into the business. Your plans and actions should reflect the needs and dreams of the country, win the hearts of the employees, consider the ecological, social, economic and psychological impact to the society, and move your business through a progressive track.
Entrepreneurs should rely on transparent, institutional approaches; they should firmly oppose the backdoor and under-the-table dealings. When necessary they should discuss the problems in the appropriate forums and make complaints. They should practice healthy competition. They should be willing to invest in education and training of their employees, and avoid luring such people from each other. They should not try to create monopoly in the business through any sort of cartel, blocking the entry of new comers in the name of so called restriction area, quota, ceiling, membership et cetera.
Good citizens make a good society and ultimately a good nation. Citizens have duties as well as the rights. If we only struggle for our rights and forget of our duties, we will ultimately ruin our prospects. Authorities can function only if they are respected and obliged to. There is no sense in refusing to remain in queue while waiting for the public buses, health checkups, bank services or voting. We throw the garbage on the streets, drain the sewage into the rivers, spay pesticides to the fruits and vegetables, inject antibiotics and hormones as growth enhancers to increase the poultry, milk and meat productivity, practice adultery in food stuffs and still gossip of their impact on human health and the environment.
Citizens as consumers should support the domestic industry by choosing local products and services where possible. Using a bicycle or public transportation especially electric vehicles over personal cars, plant-based safe insect repellants over toxic pesticides, buying unattractive cheap local fruits and vegetables over those attractive imported ones, local construction materials, clothes and other goods can both save money, promote health, and support local economy and employment.