Let’s raise our voicesChristopher William Dell, who was US ambassador to Zimbabwe from 2004 to 2009, once said, “The Zimbabwe government’s own gross mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt rule has brought on the crisis.”
Christopher William Dell, who was US ambassador to Zimbabwe from 2004 to 2009, once said, “The Zimbabwe government’s own gross mismanagement of the economy and its corrupt rule has brought on the crisis.” This indictment not only applies to Zimbabwe and its economy, but to our own Nepali organisations too. It is very easy to become opinionated and claim that it is only governmental organisations and related bodies that are mismanaged. However, good management is something that you do not find in many private organisations either, as customers and their needs mostly go unheeded.
As bad as it gets
The education and health sectors are the backbone of any economy. A country with an illiterate population will not progress, and the same applies to a country without adequate health facilities. Mismanagement is clearly evident in these sectors. Nepal’s educational sector is flooded with colleges offering foreign degrees, but the government does not seem to be regulating their activities. For example, universities in the UK only offer three-year degrees; but there are colleges in Nepal affiliated to UK universities which offer four-year UK degrees just to meet the Ministry of Education’s requirements. The Education Ministry does not regulate or inspect these colleges, and the extra year that they offer is their own and not a proper UK university course. The victims of this practice are innocent students and their parents who end up paying hefty university fees for that extra year.
Unscrupulous practices are seen not only in foreign-affiliated colleges in Nepal. Local universities too are not blameless. As part of the requirement at the completion of a course, a thesis paper has to be submitted to the university. These thesis research papers can be bought easily at many stationery shops around the Kathmandu Valley. So it does not come as a great surprise that Nepali academicians have not been able to publish quality research papers in international journals. When will the government react to such practices? Do we lack quality professors who can teach students to conduct proper research or are we fast turning into the Zimbabwe of Asia?
It’s the same in the health sector. You might have read many accounts about the lackadaisical attitude of doctors towards the treatment of patients which has led to the death of many of them. Many doctors seem so busy in handling commissions that they forget their primary duty to give top quality service to their patients. Like the education sector where students are the ultimate sufferers, in the health sector it is the poor patients who will ultimately have to pay the price, which could even result in the loss of their lives. Many doctors, in their greed for commissions, recommend medicines to their patients which might not be appropriate to their medical condition. When will the Health Ministry react to such practices?
Apart from education and health, other sectors are also not doing very well in terms of management. People get squashed when travelling by public transportation in the Kathmandu Valley, but the Traffic Police do not take any action. The seats of public transportation vehicles are rarely washed and are not hygienic. Some of the vehicles have been in operation for donkey’s years, and emit a lot of carbon dioxide. Hence, they pollute the atmosphere. Potholes have become a fashion in Nepal, and our motorists have become experts in dodging them. Every year, a massive pond is formed at Tinkune due to mismanagement of drainage pipes. Our international airport is another example. We do not even have a duty-free store at our international airport, and baggage handling is bad. There have been many cases of things being stolen at our airport.
I will give you a vivid example of mismanagement that I faced last week at a stock broking house. I suggested to them that their management should be improved as they had taken more than three months to settle a transaction. In response, the employee called me a criticiser. One of the principles of total quality management, which is an American management system, is that ‘the customer is always right’. Yet, when people like us try to inform organisations that their management has to change its ways, it is always received badly or they often turn a deaf ear.
As a management student and researcher, I am bemused during my dealings with Nepali organisations on a daily basis. I spent over a decade in Europe, and it shocks me to a great extent when I see organisations and their way of handling their customers. The worst part is that organisations get away with improper management because of lack of awareness among customers. Corruption has really ruined vital sectors like education and health in the country as institutions easily get away by doing things and by bribing the authorities. Corrupt authorities who are supposed to do their duty and lack of governance or management are ruining this country.
Mismanagement can only be solved if people raise their voices against such practices openly at discussion forums and online media. If we do not act promptly to solve management issues prevalent in our organisations, we are definitely doomed to fail. Corrupt rule coupled with mismanagement in every sector will definitely turn Nepal into another Zimbabwe.
Sharma is pursuing a master’s degree in the Department of Management, University of Otago, New Zealand