From monarchy to republicGood governance is one of the key requisites for the economic success of a country
It is undeniably unfair to cite the speed of development during the 30-year-long monarchial regime (1960-90) as an excuse to hide the abnormalities that we are witnessing during the so-called democratic system after its restoration in 1990. Assessing the speed of development during the monarchial regime may prove difficult if it was still around. Development, whether fast or slow, is a normal process for any sovereign country. Everyone should agree that the desired development or required transformation has not been effectively made even after the restoration of democracy.
Moreover, after Nepal became a republic, the ambiguous deviation in the principle of the political parties, coupled with formidably growing corruption, has led to an unfair obstruction in the path towards prosperity. Given our seemingly perpetual transitions, it is important to pause, reflect and compare the currently available technology, prerequisites required for the desired change, revenue, investment plan and the country’s income sources offer adequate opportunities and flexibilities to carve the right path to development with those of the monarchical system. And question yourself: Is it fair to compare the country’s current speed of progress with the monarchical system? Did we do enough? Did the new system bring the changes? Did the political leaders keep their promise to the general public? The biggest question here is: Are we on the path of prosperity even after the formation of a new democratic republic government with a two-thirds majority?
On the other hand, development cannot be defined as the change brought by the volatile, momentary and economic progress with floating remittance, as frequently claimed by political demagogues in the country. Indeed, the money earned by people spending hours under the scorching sun in the Middle East and elsewhere may have converted a number of mud houses into cement houses. People, with this money, may have bought a television set and better dresses than their neighbour. Nevertheless, Nepal agrees in increasing its economic graph in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) equivalent to 30 percent based on unstable income sources like remittance. This earning placed in the hands of individuals is worthless to count as the key indicator on the graph of the country’s economic growth. This is not a regular and sustainable source of income.
It was, and is, still undoubtedly relevant to establish a robust system that offers an unavoidable situation a chance to integrate into a meaningful headway to prosperity. Needless to say, neither the monarchical system, nor the democratic system, nor the democratic republic of Nepal has been able to establish the system yet. What an unfortunate situation!
Nowadays, at least one member in a family from a majority of households in Nepal is either overseas or planning to test their fortune there. This is the current situation in Nepal. A majority of them are in the Middle East, encountering life and death situations in the process. With one foot in the grave, a number of enterprising youths continue to return home in coffins. It is remorsefully sad to say that in a country once dominated by agriculture that more than 80 percent of the population relied upon, arable land is being converted into barren land due to the exodus of youths overseas in search of employment. The current situation seeks to redefine the country’s agriculture-based description into a remittance dominated economy.
According to recent data released by the International Labour Organisation, agriculture provides a livelihood to 68 percent of Nepal’s population, accounting for 34 percent of the GDP. Nevertheless, Nepal struggles to produce an adequate supply of food for its citizens. Declining agricultural production has depressed rural economies and increased widespread hunger and urban migration. This is, of course, the bitter reality of our country. The exodus of youths overseas is not promoting our sustainable economy, instead it is creating more dependency.
Good governance is one of the key pillars in promoting the economic success of a country, notably countries that are climbing the ladder of development such as Nepal. Sadly, and undoubtedly, it is not unfair to say that the newly declared republic has not been able to ensure good governance either. The government precisely fails to curtail rampant corruption in the civil service. The extreme corruption leaves not a single sector untouched, shaming the office of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority. Market prices are skyrocketing in a way that makes it difficult for ordinary people or public servants who never take bribes to manage their daily expenses. The rich are getting richer overnight. No one dares to question how someone has been able to accumulate their mountain of wealth.
With the realities above, Nepal must proactively work to establish political stability, enforce good governance, create more job opportunities, encourage youths to stay back in the country, and explore potential areas for stable economic growth such as agriculture and tourism. Promotion and modernisation of the agriculture system with new technology will offer regular income and ensure food security, gradually and eventually helping to heal the wounded economy.
Bhandari is an anthropologist.