-- By Madan Lamsal
Time is ever changing. And with the changing times, the economic models of countries have also been changing. There was a time when we saw Hitler’s nationalistic capitalism. Then came Stalin’s version of the Soviet model. A few decades later, India’s Nehru mixed quite a few models together and introduced the world to, what he called, “the mixed economy” model of Licence Raj. In China, Mao introduced “Communism” and later Deng Xiao Ping discarded it and adopted state-capitalism led by the Party.
Even in our country, we had our fair share. The Panchayati rulers exercised the Mahendra model of License Raj, (which obviously he borrowed from Nehru), and we saw Birendra’s Asian Standard system that further strengthened the License Raj. Then, when the Nepali Congress rose to power after 1990, it adopted the open market economy, promoting private entrepreneurship which, for a time, illuminated the country under the light of a capitalist economy, but soon started becoming crony capitalism. Then came a period when the communists started rising and falling from power. They, through an unholy marriage of communism and capitalism, gave birth to a hybrid offspring, which they called, again, “the mixed economy” and that too proved to be crony capitalism as they created new cronies, in the form of so called NGOs and cooperatives affiliated to the party. Perhaps, in the course of doing so, they realized that capitalism was really needed. But the irony is, they started practicing a look-alike – crony capitalism with cronies not imagined before by Stalin, Mao and Deng!
Another word for crony capitalism is Agentocracy.
The word agent is not as shady as it may sound – for those who are already screwing up their noses. Agents are omnipresent, everywhere! In every business and profession, in politics and administration. In fact, almost everyone in every profession is working as an agent. Almost all successful businessmen and others who are capable, vie with each other to grab any opportunity for taking up the agency of foreign goods or becoming their sales agent. Now do I really need to tell you that agentocracy serves the interests of Nepal and Nepalis?
But what is agentocracy, after all?
It’s very simple. In agentocacry, people share all the trade, all the important positions, all the vital government licenses, and all the tax exemptions – basically all the money -- among themselves. The only and inevitable precondition, however, is ‘people’ here means those close to power.
In agentocracy, people can amass a fortune. People can remain above the law. Similarly, bureaucrats are considered wiser than anyone else. But again, people here means, the people described above.
And again, whose fault is it if you are not close to those in power? Yours or theirs?
You might say the country doesn’t earn in agentocracy. My answer is what do the people, as the ones described above, get when the country earns wealth? Don’t you think it’s good that ‘people’ are getting rich and the rich are getting richer, and not the country whose wealth the politicians squander anyway?
As the name suggests, agents rule the roost in agentocracy. They trust only themselves to handle the economy and make sure that this happens. You don’t have to go anywhere to see this Communists’ Utopia or agentocracy. This is being successfully run in Nepal itself! The show is a hit and getting the active support from even some business chambers!!
It is because of agentocracy that those who taught kids with chalk and dusters in the past, are at the helm of the country today. Because of agentocracy, people can run the government even when they are not in the government. This is what ‘a government by the people, for the people and of the people’ actually is!
The market should be run as it is run in agentocracy. You get essential commodities everywhere. For example, petrol. So what if it was not available at the place where you normally buy it from – the petrol pumps? It is available at every shop in used plastic water bottles. Sometimes I wonder where these people, who are running the show at present, were in the past! We should be thankful to them and their agentocracy. Long live agentocracy!