The Challenge Of Managing A Nation

Prem Khatry

 

If you fail to manage yourself or feel you are short of some basic knowledge, ideas and action related to managing your life up to minimum expectation and need, you are doomed. This is not the famous Greek philosopher Socrates’ saying read on a stone edict anywhere on wall in Greece for that matter. This is a commonplace knowledge and a matter or serious concern of the day.
Private college principles are now overly conscious and excited to see the daily turnover of SEE graduates seeking their advices regarding the best subject to follow leading to their future career. A large number of top rankers opt for Management now. This is some kind of paradigm shift they now experience increasingly compared to what they saw in yester years.

Choices
In Nepal, they argue, three major categories were clear in terms of subject selection after the SLC: First divisioners would try Science, second divisioners would go to Commerce or Management and the jokingly dubbed ‘Gandhi’ divisioners were to go to Humanities. Story didn’t stop there; there was one more category: the failures. For them politics was the open option. The nation would then get administrators from the low pass, politicians from the ‘no pass’ degree.
This doesn’t hold true always. The administration has large number of brilliant brains and politics has attracted A grade students as well as noted doctors, profs, businessmen and construction workers. During the last elections, critics called them ‘dons’ with heaps of money and plenty of muscles.
A government, whatever its status in the Parliament, has a huge responsibility to manage the country effectively producing results literally on daily basis. You can’t make people wait like housewives in a dry and remote village well waiting for her turn to fill in the jar with the source of life – water. Here people judge the management skill of the government while crossing the road, driving through the dusty corners, potholes and ditches, and through dangerous tippers, dancing Pulsars and indiscreet micro buses.
A tipper driver reportedly holding a village beauty on his lap together with 6 other passengers in his congested cabin alone and carrying 2 dozen workers atop his regular cargo of sand ran down the slope killing many of the passengers on the spot in Mustang the other day. The Tipper is dubbed ‘the killer no one’ even here on the Araniko Highway. Compared to the government system, the syndicate management seems more effective and functioning better than the government machinery that often fails to bring the killer to task.
The lesson is: Managing the government’s very own but also very unruly and wild looking transportation system is in question about its wayward and insensitive moves. Nobody, almost nobody follows the law. Thy syndicate dons literally ‘buy’ punishment and make it cozy and soft cherishing the end of life of others. Now they are ‘buying’ time from the government. It appears it will take active life of two Idi Amins to bring them to justice.
See Education. One has to spend life to locate the system that once was there in place. Gradual erosion in quality education started from two ends – schools and the university. Partisan politics gradually worked as huge bunch of termites and the system fell to the ground never to rise again to function the way it should. Now a person can convince the top brass that s/he would pay levy on regular basis and become member of this party or that if a post (take for example, Head of a small department in a campus) is offered. Knowing that the ruling party may go for full term as the situation stands as of now, the person’s smile will turn into a loud laugh. And the laugh will last the full term, God willing.
In Health the tragic saga of Prof Dr. Govind KC is there for us all to see and feel. An argument may say Dr. KC has gone beyond his limit this time as there is already one full-fledged health institute in Karnali and that can be expanded both in terms of manpower and facilities required at different levels. He now has become the symbol of people’s need and aspiration in Karnali.
Our leaders have spent almost a full length of Panchayat downsizing its contributions but not letting its few incredible works come back to memory. Take fabric production, for example. King Mahendra had cotton in the Farwest; the pack would roll down at Butwal Thread Mill and head toward Hetauda mills for fabric production. The system worked for years. Sugar mills, agro-tool factory, cigarette factory, leather shoe factory are few examples of the ‘panchayati bad’ days. When good days came we sold them one by one importing all these items paying high price and equally high tax. In our case, the dependency syndrome has positive effects - we have become more dependent than before, perhaps lazier, too.
Just think of disaster management at this time of the year. One hardly heard of such a thing before monsoon. Now even Chure has been disastrous flooding the EW Highway, the settlements nearby and blocking the road for regular traffic. Where is the high power Chure Committee at this hour? Why couldn’t we make the entire length of the vulnerable Chure hills green all these post Panchayat years? Did Chure fail or we did?

Mismanagement
Finally, management is a challenge for Nepal. It is for all sectors, from all levels, for all regions and local governments. Asare Bikas (a sarcastic expression for the last minute unlimited expenses unleashed in the name of development) is the brilliant example of mis-management. Shunning all faculties and promoting the Management faculty in all universities and campuses for some years, sensitising the civil and armed servants, specially designed ‘sadaachar’ (ethical) classes for politicians and administrators will perhaps reduce the corruption instances and reaffirm ethics at the workplace, construction sites, schools, hospitals, roads and what not.
Changing faces at Singha Durbar would mean much less unless the heart breaking saga of a lone ploughman at the farm, the porter on the hill, the primary school teacher, the poor of remote districts and the flood as well as disaster victims waiting for the doom’s day in the aftermath of the Mega quake of 2015 is documented and recommended for immediate action.

 

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