--By Madan Lamsal
Despite the efforts of seven decades to catch the bus of development, Nepal has not been able to do so. What may be the reasons? Before 1951, Nepal’s economy stood on a single leg only. As a result, the country’s development would limp on the Chandra Shumsher-path or Tribhuvan-path as and when the Palace so wished. Otherwise, it would stand still. A decade later, the economy acquired another leg to become two-legged and development started treading the Mahendra-path. The two-legged economy was named mixed economy wherein the public and private sectors were supposed to work as partners of development.
It was the time when a number of European, Russian, American, Chinese and Indian bipeds were brought in for the sake of Nepal’s development. However, the country’s development wagon could not gather the desired pace. Rather, Nepali revolutionaries got a chance to learn and copy the Russian and Chinese ways of doing things. The effects of this learning are evident even today.
After the political change of 1990, attempts were made to amputate the older leg of the two-legged economy arguing that the private sector would lead the economy from now onwards. The economy got another name – free market economy. But in essence, the economy started following the path shown by a handful of people from the private sector. The economy was free to few privileged people only.
Therefore, another revolution took place in 2006 and the resultant government vowed to make the economy three-legged - the third leg being the cooperatives. The performance of this three-legged economic model, too, hasn’t been satisfactory. But the new third leg or cooperatives has proved very beneficial for one of the political parties and is working as one of its own legs. However the economy is still limping. These experiments with one-legged, two-legged and three-legged economy have convinced this scribe that the country needs a four-legged economy for the development process to gallop. The simple reason is a four-legged thing is always stronger than one-, two- or three-legged ones. Examples abound – tables, chairs or quadrupeds like oxen, tigers or elephants.
In fact, it is evident everywhere that quadrupeds standing on their two legs are running this country. In doing so they burn taxies and motorbikes, demolish houses and buildings and take the entire country a hostage whenever they like to do so. They seem to be hell-bent on torching petrol and diesel vehicles in order to reduce noise pollution in the cities! Going for a four-legged economy is vital also for clearing the confusion created by the mixture of these two- and four-legged creatures. In the past, there were three organs of the state – executive, legislative and judiciary. Later, somebody suggested adding a fourth organ – the media. And all the media industry became so happy. But what would be the fourth leg of the economy? The question is natural as well as tricky. You may argue that a four-legged economy sounds too animal-like, not human. However, I don’t think we should worry about that. In fact, I say we should have the economy like that – animal like.
To prove my point let me draw your attention to ‘the animal spirit’ that renowned British economist John Maynard Keynes had mentioned way back in the 1930s as the major motivator to the entrepreneurs to work with enthusiasm. By extrapolation, this means we need the economy to be as agile and strong as animals. All of us have seen how the western countries have developed after Keynes made that remark.
Therefore, it is very much necessary to have an animal spirit in the economy and that naturally demands the economy to be a four-legged one. And it is a humble proposal of this scribe that the NGOs and INGOs that claim to be dedicated for the country’s development should be made the fourth leg of the economy! Afterall the INGOs are already running the show in Nepal. It is said that they have also already drafted the new constitution that now needs just endorsement of the Constituent Assembly.
Or, alternatively, shall the remittance sector be made the fourth leg of the economy? But does remittance really stand a chance in front of the mighty INGOs?
Whatever! The main thing is we should give the country a four-legged economy and push the development process forward on Prachanda-path, Baidya-path or other similar paths. After all, the way of thinking and activities of many Nepali citizens, businessmen, and especially politicians, resemble those of the quadrupeds! Moreover, the economy is in danger of turning into a zoo. If it happens and when one visits the monkey section of the economic zoo she/he may start laughing at seeing their behaviours. Therefore, we should adopt the four legged economic policy or you may call it a 'zoo model of economy' before it’s too late.