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Prosperous Nepal And Happy Nepali

Issue November 2019

Prosperous Nepal And Happy Nepali

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


When Prime Minister K.P. Oli put forward this slogan “Prosperous Nepal And Happy Nepali,” Nepalis thought that they had correctly voted for the communists. Then, Oli committed to the zero tolerance of corruption and he even stated that he would neither commit any corruption nor allowed to anybody to commit. Surely, anybody included the ministers and political leaders, and of the course the state bureaucracy. Then, common folks anticipated that the Oli administration would craft the policies accordingly and implement them as required by his public commitments. Now, let us check how the realities had been.


First, let us make the reality check of the political development.


Democracy was the enemy of the communists or the communists were the enemies of democracy. The reality was that they could not go together. Communists had no name for democracy. Even the elections they conduct had gone against democratic values and principles because the communist party nominated one candidate for one constituency. Voters had to cast their ballots to a single candidate. In case some folks did not show up at the polling station then the police went to force the voters to come and vote. That had been the mockery of democracy. That was what the communists did and do even today.


Democratic norms, values and principles had eroded during the almost two years of the Oli administration.


The first obvious erosion of democracy had been when Singer Pashupati Sharma had to delete his anti-corruption song uploaded in the youtube website because the song had hurt the sentiments of the communist cadres. So, they threatened Singer Sharma with the terrible consequences if he were not to remove the song from the youtube. Singer Sharma quietly took out his so popular song from the website, and made the communist cadres happy. Prime Minister Oli also became happy with the activities of the cadres of his party and with Sharma, too after taking off the song from the website.


Following the democratic norms, values and principles, the prime minister supposed to be the defender of democracy had to take strong actions against his political cadres, and listened to what Singer Sharma had expressed in his song, and even needed to thank him for bringing out the evils of corruption. However, what Prime Minister Oli did was “kill two birds with a single bullet” making the anti-corruption singer the victim one and democracy another.


That was not all that democracy had to take hits from the Oli administration. For example, the anti-corruption warrior Rabi Lamichane was implicated in the suicide case and put behind bars for several days. Only after the heavy pressure of the public Lamichane got released from the jail, as the media reports went.


Another anti-corruption warrior Gyanendra Shahi was physically assaulted in Chitwan. He had so vigorously fought against the illegal holding up of the flight from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu by a newly appointed minister Yogesh Bhattarai, who did not even bothered to apologize for his misdeeds, rather attempted to charge for what some passengers had protested against the fault of the minister, according to the media reports.


Anybody could draw conclusion from what had happened that speaking up against the corruption had been surely speaking against the Oli administration. The most respected anti-corruption warrior Dr. Surendra K.C: the university professor had expressed his doubt that how long and how far he could go on speaking up against corruption without provoking the Oli administration to come after him, as often he spoke to the TV interviewers.


The recent reshuffle of the Oli cabinet had sufficiently demonstrated how much Oli had been serious to his commitment to the zero tolerance of corruption. The Nepalese media including the social media had been full of the news coverage that most of the hard-working and sincere ministers had to exit from the cabinet while the most controversial persons including a man implicated in the court case of murder had been in the cabinet.


Former Minster for Labor, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista had clearly stated in his emotional public statement posted on the social media that he had done a lot of things for the benefits of the Nepalese youths who went for the foreign employments. However, his work certainly went against the interest of the manpower companies: one of the main interest groups that had probably influenced Oli on firing such a good and sincere minister that had certainly worked for the benefits of the youths and for the nation, the media stated. Mr. Bista took a taxi from his office at Singhdurbar to home after he got the message that he was out of the cabinet. That was the award he received for his sincerity and good work done while in office.


Another Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supply Matrika Yadav had to be out of the cabinet for attempting to run the idle state-owned large industries, and trying to hold up the Industrial Park Prime Minister Oli wanted at his constituency in Damak that went against the governing laws and rules, as he stated in the news posted on So, Mr. Yadav said that he was happy to leave the cabinet. He moved out of the ministerial residence to the rented house at Thimi in Bhaktapur one day before the cabinet reshuffle was announced, according to the news.


Former Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration Lalbabu Pandit did not have even a clue he was moving out of the cabinet, again according to the news in the media. He received the message from the telephone call of someone at night when he was still in sleep, according to what he said to the media. His curiosity was why he was not informed that he had to leave the cabinet. Obviously, he had done a fantastic job and his performances were well recognized but he had to go out of the cabinet probably under the influences of the interest groups that must had heavily influenced the prime minister.


Former Deputy Prime Minister Bhim Rawal said in one of the videos posted on Facebook that the two chairmen of the Nepal Communist Party went to consult with the president, and then they said that the cabinet reshuffle was done in consultation with the president, according to what he said to the TV interviewer. Rawal also said that the position of the president was the ceremonial one following the Constitution; it certainly went against the Constitution to consult with the president for the business of the cabinet; why they needed to consult with the president for making the changes in the cabinet; it was the prerogative of the prime minister.


That was how the reality of the prime minister’s commitment to the zero tolerance of corruption had been, and the results of strengthening democracy for which Nepalis had voted for the communists.


Probably, the communist leaders and cadres must have erroneously thought that the voters had given the then two communist parties to enforce the communist system of governance. If that was the thought of those politicians then they were totally wrong. Voters had given the mandate to implement what the election manifesto had stated.


The election manifesto had certainly nothing about enforcing the communist system rather making Nepal prosperous through the agricultural development for substituting the imports of agricultural products, eradicating illiteracy within two years, providing clean water for all, providing the entire populace with affordable health services, developing industries and businesses, making the economic growth fantastically fast to make the per capita income US$ 5,000 within five years, and last but not the least to make the senior citizen allowance to NPR 5,000 per month.


Going from the bottom up, senor citizens had to wait for one year to have NPR 3,000 per month not to mention NPR 5,000 per month as pledged in the election manifesto. Senior citizens had been frustrated with the Oli administration not keeping up to the election manifesto. They disappointed and regretted that their votes had gone astray because they had en mass voted for the two communist parties that merged into a single one anticipating the allowance would be hiked to NPR 5,000.


Probably, it was the prime minister who was supposed to keep the elections pledges but the finance minister who was not accountable to voters had been against giving any increments to the senior citizens as he thought that the state would not be able to afford such increments but he did not care about how billions of rupees had been wasted on the subsidies on anything anybody could name.


Then, the Oli administration had to make the economic growth awfully fast to make the per capita income US$ 5,000 within five years. Probably, the prime minister had chosen his person for the finance minister rather than a most appropriate person to make his party’s election manifesto would come true. Since the finance minister took office, the stock market went for free fall, and it had not recovered so far.


Recently, the finance minister had done the things that went directly against the economic growth. He banned the imports of goods that would adversely affect the national industries and to the health of the common folks, according to his statement published in “gorkhapatra”. In his words, the immediate impact of the import restriction had been that it reduced 40 percent national revenue when the imports went down by 10 percent.


If the finance minister had been the development economist or expert then he would had never prohibited any imports because in doing so he would be distorting the national economy creating a parallel business of such banned items, and it would also make the national industries inefficient because the finance minister had already shed the competitive goods by the import prohibition. It would put the brakes on the fast economic development.


Rather than crafting economic policies for the fastest possible economic development as mentioned in the election manifesto of the two communist parties, the finance minister had contributed to reduce the tempo of the economic growth saying first the investment in the stock was unproductive, and then buying vehicles also unproductive, and so on asking for investors to invest in the productive sectors only.


What is productive, the finance minister had no clear-cut definition. If he were the development economist he would rather say that buying vehicles would be the most productive one because without vehicles no fast economic development would be possible. Similarly, without investment in the stock, no fast economic development would be a reality.


So, the reality of the fast economic development had been setting the annual economic growth target without any polices supporting it to achieve. Consequently, the economic growth had been sluggish not to mention achieving the election pledge of making Nepalis have US$ 5,000 per capita income within five years.


Developing industries and businesses could contribute to the fast economic growth but the minister for industry, commerce and supply, who said that he had tried to reopen the idle state-owned industries, had been out after the recent reshuffle of the cabinet. Certainly, state-owned industries such as Bhrikuti Paper Mill, Gorkhali Rubber Udoyog, Birgunj Agricultural Tools Factory, Hetauda Textile Mills, and so on could significantly contribute to the import substitution. A large number of jobs would be created and some of the youths would not need to go foreign countries for employments. These industries would create the revenue for the state in the form of dividends and taxes.


However, the Oli administration had recently set up an iron industry company with the 55 percent share of the state and 45 percent of the private sector, according to the news published in “Artha Bazaar” of “gorkhapatra”. Anybody could guess whether the new company would not be a white elephant as had been the previous state-owned industries. Again the question was who would invest in such an industry when it was almost sure it would bound to be a white elephant.


Affordable health services were the state had to deliver to meet the commitment made in the election manifesto. Had the Oli administration made any attempt on delivering such health services? If anybody were to believe Dr. Govinda K.C., who had been a strong activist working for affordable health services to the poor then the answer would be certainly no. His main actions had been to force the Oli administration to act on providing the less privileged folks with quality health services. He had taken fast-unto-death several times forcing the state administration to make agreements with him but never implemented, as Dr K.C. stated. Recently, he sat for the fast-unto-death again but he gave it up for the fast spreading and nationally important news on the Indian encroachment on the Nepalese territory, which had been the main concern of the entire populace.


Providing clean water for all had been another election pledge. However, the current Oli administration had been far from doing anything like this to happen in the near future. Even the almost completed and the highly hyped Melamchi Drinking Project had been dragging its feet. Nobody had been sure when the water from the Melamchi River would flow to Kathmandu. Some folks believed that the project had been stalled because of the some interest groups that had been benefiting from stonewalling the project. Then, how could Nepalis believe that all common folks would have drinking water within two years?


Eradicating illiteracy within two years had been another commitment the communists had made during the election stumps. The state had not moved fast to make it a reality rather the ministers including the prime minister had publicly stated that all Nepalis would be literate within two years. Some folks challenged this statement stating it would be enough if the Oli administration could make all his political cadres educated. Thousands of school going children had been out of schools. Most of the children admitted at schools for the first time went out of schools because of several reasons in the remote areas. They had to collect fodders for the livestock, and fuels then water for the household consumption. Such things would take them the whole day.


The election manifesto of the communists had stated that the agricultural production would be increased and it would offset the imports of the agricultural products within two years but the imports had not only stopped but also increased contributing to the trade deficit, the media reports stated.


Farmers had been complaining that they did not receive the subsidized fertilizers at the time of the plantation seasons and then they did not get the market for their products after harvest of the crops rather the traders had benefiting. Consequently, farmers had no means and motivation for increasing the agricultural production.


Middlepersons had been harvesting the benefits in absence of the state doing anything to correct the traders manipulating the prices of the rice harvest, as reported in the media recently. Traders had formed cartels. They had allocated the areas for them only so that others would not go and buy the current rice harvest. So, farmers could not bargain with the buyers, according to the media reports.


The most conspicuous failure of the Oli administration had been to amend the Public Purchase Act that had been the culprit for the delay in the construction projects including the Melamchi Project, and for the contractors defaulting on the contracts. Anybody could go just 10 km from the core of the Kathmandu city to find the real conditions of the roads, and a few road projects such as Bhaktapur-Nagarkot Road, and Boudha-Sakhu Road had been the examples of never ending rather work-pending road projects.


However, the misinformation at the highest level and down to the ministers’ had been the regular business.


If anybody had read the state-run newspaper “gorkhapatra” on November 23, 2019, s/he would find on the front page written in large letters that the prime minister stated soon Nepal would be a modern, developed and prosperous country. However, the statements made elsewhere in this article had already made clear that Nepal had been far from being prosperous in the near future.


The prime minister also stated to make the country successful; sincerity and self-confidence were required for any work to do. Prime Minister Oli was speaking at the Twenty-fifth Convocation of the Kathmandu University held in Chaukot on November 22, 2019, according to the news published in “gorkhapatra” on November 23, 2019.


No doubt about the need for sincerity and self-confidence to make the country prosperous but only in words would not achieve prosperity, so practice was necessary. However, the recent cabinet reshuffle had been to remove the sincere and hard working folks only to induct the controversial persons into the cabinet, according to the media reports.


The minister for communication and information technology had been relentlessly saying that he was for introducing the Media Council Bill for ensuring the freedom of expression, for rights of the reporters and so on. The Media Council Bill had provoked the protests from all quarters because the existing Press Council Act has been sufficient for ensuring the freedom of expression and for other purposes concerning the press.


Another minister for land management, cooperatives and poverty alleviation had almost seized the private, public and state Guthi land introducing the Guthi Bill that would have killed all the prevailing Guthi organizations, and destroyed the cultural and religious heritages denying any sorts of revenue for them to preserve those cultural heritage. Certainly, it provoked the stakeholders and they had risen up against the Guthi Bill, and for the first time they shook the Oli administration vigorously to its roots making even the prime minister nervous and promptly making the minister to withdraw the Guthi Bill from the National Assembly she had submitted.


A number of prevailing laws and rules and regulations had been obstacles to the fast economic development. Most of them were crafted during the absolute rule of the kings, and those laws and rules and regulations remained intact not for development but for controlling development. The Oli administration had not been serious to do anything to change those laws and rules and regulations rather had been active to craft bills on controlling media, and grabbing the Guthi land and so on.


Now, Happy Nepali, were or are Nepalis happy? What needed them to be happy?


If anybody ask what would make the Kathmanduites happy. Then everyone in one voice would say the water from Melamchi River because they have to use the bottled water even for making tea. Then of course, they need the dustless and mud free road and the environment friendly to the public.


Then, if anybody goes to ask the farmers what they need to be happy, they would say they need subsidized fertilizers at the time of plantation and then the appropriate market for their products during the harvest time. Both had been missing currently, according to the media reports.


If anybody asks the businesspersons what they need to be happy, they would say investment friendly environment, hassle free bureaucrats for even paying taxes, and surely the non-interferences in their businesses. However, these things had not been happening even though the ministers including the prime minister had been parroting that the investment climate had been friendly and favorable to the investment and urging the national investors and international to invest in Nepal. That also had not been happening.


The same question if asked to the taxpayers then they will say that they want to see their tax money properly and sincerely used for the fast completion of the development projects. Then only, they would be happy. However, as already stated elsewhere, neither the tax money had been properly and sincerely utilized nor most of the development projects including the Melamchi Water Project completed to make the target folks benefit from the projects.


However, the contractors might be the happiest folks in the current political and business environment prevailing for them to work or not to work. They could receive the advance for initiating the contract, and then disappeared forever. None would bothered them for disappearing or not working at all, for example, neither the project in-charge, nor the concerned secretary to the ministry and then of course the minister.


The contractors could receive more money and time for not doing work and certainly not completing the project. The vivid example is the currently non-functioning Melamchi Drinking Water Project.  Not only that they could receive more money in case of the prices of the construction materials went up but also they did not need to reduce their contract amount in case of the prices of construction materials went down.


What else do the contractors needed in such a most favorable environment for them to work?  Probably, they could be the happiest persons in Nepal. If all Nepalis had been the contractors then Prime Minister Oli would have hit his slogan positively instantly. Unfortunately, majority of the Nepalis had been the victims because of the state administration making the contractors happy leaving the rest of Nepalis high and dry.


The victims were the voters who were directly punished for knowingly or unknowingly voting for the communist candidate anticipating the communists would keep their elections pledges and would make the voters happy. For example, the senor citizens, who would have been happy if the monthly allowance had been hiked immediately to NPR 5,000 as promised during the election stumps. However, unfortunately that did not happened, and their votes went astray. They had probably learned a great lesson from it.


Probably, the Oli administration had not only taught the lessons good or bad to the senior citizens but also to all the voters scraping almost all the election pledges made during the last general elections. The results of the lessons taught and learned would be out only after the next general elections to be held in three years. The results of the upcoming by-elections might be some indications of voters learning the lessons the Oli administration had taught.


One thing Nepalis have been happy with is the almost 24-hour electricity supply with some interruptions at times without notifications thanks to the CEO of Nepal Electricity Authority: Kulman Ghising, who had set the record of working sincerely and relentlessly for making possible that all people have the supply of electricity unlike in the past when common folks had several hours power outage whereas some companies had power supply without any interruptions.


The credit for the current power supply must go to the former Energy Minister Janardan Sharma, who appointed Ghising to the CEO of the NEA, and plugged almost all the loopholes that made the corrupt folks possible to make almost immense money at the cost of the common consumers of power, and made Ghising to work honestly and properly.


Happy Nepali has been partially met thanks to former Energy Minister Janardan Sharma, and of course thanks to Ghising working so nicely for the public benefits rather than for the benefits of the interest groups, bureaucrats, and ministers as in the past in the energy sector.


Common folks have been appreciating the sincere work Ghising has been doing; Kulman Ghising will surely leave his footprints for the future CEOs of NEA to follow. Ghising’s name will be written in golden letters in the history of the Nepalese CEOs working in the state-owned large companies.


Nepalis have been happy with the good supply of power. Some folks question why Prime Minister Oil did not appoint a number of Ghisings in other state-owned companies so that the results would be as positive as that of the power supply, and consumers would be happy, and Oli would make his “Happy Nepali’ a reality.


November 23, 2019

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