Myopic decisions have made the people question their faith in this governmentOfficials have had to backtrack on a number of policy decisions.
The government has backtracked on several policy decisions in the past few months, which has raised doubts over its credibility. Ranging from the Guthi Bill to the latest decision on pesticide residue testing, the government has backed off from its earlier stance amid mounting public pressure. Its decision not to host the International Indian Film Academy Awards in Kathmandu also exhibited a similar trend. The issue of conducting this event had become very controversial to the extent of attracting the attention of the parliamentary Committee on International Relations.
Based on a thorough review of the draft agreement between the government and the event management company Wizcraft International, the House panel concluded that the proposed event was not in the larger interest of the country and the people. The committee clearly stated that some clauses in the agreement were detrimental to national sovereignty. For instance, the point related to inciting legal offence against the Nepal government in case of failure to maintain quality standards in the award ceremony was deemed to be unacceptable.
A majority of Nepali filmmakers publicly expressed their serious reservation, urging the government to review the decision to host the awards in the first place. At a time when the government has not shown any interest in promoting the national film industry, it was only natural that the obsession with the International Indian Film Academy Awards should receive an unfriendly response from the film fraternity in particular.
While the government and its departments involved in the negotiations argued that such a grandiose event would enhance the stature of the nation and be a milestone in making Visit Nepal 2020 a great success, the financial burden that the country would incur in hosting the event has been a matter of grave concern. Even lawmakers belonging to the ruling parties publicly condemned the government, urging it to prioritise its scope of work for the betterment of the nation and the people.
From the government’s point of view, ceremonies like the International Indian Film Academy Awards are instrumental in promoting tourism. However, it needs to think of innovative strategies for making Visit Nepal 2020 a grand success. Instead of inflicting a heavy burden on the state coffers, fostering local community-based enterprises and identifying new tourist attractions—sports and adventure, religion and spirituality, among others—will be pivotal in achieving the ultimate goal of Visit Nepal 2020.
While transforming the lives of the people through a robust socio-economic policy is the need of the hour, the government seems to be interested in other matters that are incompatible with its own national vision. In light of the above, the slogan ‘Prosperous Nepal Happy Nepali’ is looking good only on paper. The pertinent question is how we ensure that the Nepalis are happy and Nepal is prosperous. What should be our key focus on a sectoral basis to accomplish this goal?
There is an important lesson on offer for the government. It is very important to assess the gravity of the situation before making any policy decision. How feasible is the policy decision? Is it in the general interest of the country and the people? How will the general people respond or react to such a decision? Moreover, engaging in multi-stakeholder consultations on matters related to a particular field will help the government to make rational decisions. The government should make every attempt to align its decision-making with the ground reality.
A clear-cut focus to translate vision into reality should be figured out. Rather than trying to be populist, the government should adopt a realistic approach in its working style. Abandoning betrayal and deception, it should muster the courage to convey the real message to the public in terms of actually significant accomplishments and inadvertent failures.
If the government can critically review its moves and start afresh, the controversies surrounding it will be gradually reduced. This, in turn, will restore public faith, and again the public mandate to the present government will hold significance. Otherwise, the country is likely to bear the brunt of such myopic decisions, and the reactions that follow will put national priorities in disarray.
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