“How long will remittance sustain our economy?” Someone had said somewhere I don’t clearly remember.
The bitter reality of our economy has come forward during this blockade we are currently facing. There might be several political (or non-political) and diplomatic reasons behind the blockade. Whatever the reasons, the weakness of our economy has been exposed.
Economic blockades are not new to us- the experts and the media says so. When economic blockade was imposed by India during the late 60s (1967?), my grand-parents were in their late twenties. During the second blockade by India in late 80s (1989?), my parents were in their twenties. The third time we face the blockade and I am in my twenties. Is this a coincidence? I think not. I think it’s a mistake.
It’s a mistake made by our previous generation. I don’t want to blame my grand-parents. They were far less educated and the impact of blockade might not have been severe. My parents are more educated to them and had access to media – the Gorkhapatra, and Radio Nepal. (Nepal Television had come up not so long ago and many people could not afford a TV set.) They had read and heard about it. They had even felt the influence — coupons and schedules had been introduced to meet demands of kerosene oil.
When they talked of the 80s blockade last week, I asked them, “Why couldn’t you do anything to change the situation?” They did not say anything and I did not pester. It might have been embarrassing to them. It’s obvious I will be embarrassed if my children will ask such a thing in future. I don’t want to be asked the same question. What do I need to do then?
The current economy of Nepal is heavily supported by remittance. Young people go to several countries – mostly India, Gulf countries, Malaysia and South Korea for labour works. Many(including my friends) are in Australia, Europe, the US and Japan for studies and part time jobs (contributing to the remittance). Remittance has ensured that we have money; but this blockade is a proof that money is not enough to sustain economy. There are other important factors.
The first is policy. We lack strong policies that promote economic growth. The policies that have been made during the last 25 years have not been executed well. This is most probably due to political instability and corruption. The policy makers have been influenced by the frequent change in government. Discontinuities of policies made by the previous executives have been seen so often. There is an immediate need of changing the way think and act.
The second is the industries. Prithvi Narayan Shah had told in 1831 B.S. (almost 240 years ago!) to promote industries within the country and never to import clothes and food. If leaders after him had followed that, we would at least have been independent on manufacturing clothes and food products. We have failed on that mainly due to political influence over industries. ALL THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED INDUSTRIES HAVE BEEN SHUT DOWN! This lapse of management has cost us a lot.
The third is ownership. The failure of government in management of industries has been shown above. The only way to run an industry for long is to make people believe that they own them. Industries should be converted into Public Companies. This will help create emotional as well as financial attachment towards the industries.
The fourth is human resource and its proper utilization. We do not lack in skills, neither are we lazy. The same Nepali who don’t not do anything here, works diligently and even under risk in the Gulf for low wages. The government directly and indirectly inspires people to sell labour abroad. It would be good if the skills they learn could be utilized here. But sadly, whether due to the lack of their interest or due to the inefficiency of the government, they do not work here. They somehow manage to go abroad, leaving us lacking in human resource. Similarly, skilled human resources and even experts have been neglected, the result of which is BRAIN-DRAIN. The solution of this goes down to the us. We need to choose the right leaders. Among many bad leaders, to select good ones might be extremely difficult. But that is the challenge we would certainly like to undertake.
The fifth is utilization of natural resources. We are rich in it. We have trekking routes full of adventures. We have water sufficient for production of electricity and for irrigating our fields. We have different types of climate which enrich our bio-diversity. There are herbs like Yarsha Gumba (Cordyceps) which can help improve our economy in no time given their proper management. There are gemstones which can be utilized to alleviate poverty. This is possible through capable management and visionary leadership.
When these are combined, there is no way we can not sustain our economy. We have been given promises of economic growth in the past. What we want is action. We have to be sincerely do our works first. Writing an article in the Internet might not work, but it is a small step to inspire myself and to inspire people around me. It is high time, we become honest with each other. WE DO WANT A BETTER SITUATION FOR OUR CHILDREN, DON’T WE?
(P.S. Will be published in Nepali soon. There might also be other ways to improve our economy which I might have missed. Please let me know by commenting below.)