AIDIA Youth Engagement Series
“Political Environment for economic prosperity in Nepal: A discussion”
Radio Mirmire Building, Anamnagar, Kathmandu, 21st May 2016
1. Introduction – AIDIA
The Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA) is an independent, non-partisan foreign policy think-tank based in the highly geo-strategic Himalayan region. It’s headquarter is Kathmandu Nepal. AIDIA aims to lead a new era in foreign policy and international relations and reflects the unstoppable rise of the Asian continent as the key stakeholder in the economic, strategic and geo-political equations of the present day world.
AIDIA provides a platform for policy makers, academicians and industry leaders from around the world to come together to debate, discuss and share their views on the contemporary geopolitical and geo-economics issues confronting the international community. We seek to do this by facilitating effective engagement through the various activities in order to inform, educate and initiate the involvement of Nepal's youth in foreign policy debates and decision-making. AIDIA is actively engaged in providing policy analysis, facilitating diplomatic dialogue and promoting entrepreneurial engagement among all major actors and institutions native to or that have an interest in Asia.
2. Introduction – Smart Club
Smart club envisions a platform of learning, growing, improving and exercising leadership excellence by continuous participation of youth. It is collective effort that promotes our future to be democratic, encouraging to independent thinking, and tolerant of diversity.
Smar Club is a Leadership Development Academy of youth.
3. Project Report
The Guest Lecture on ‘Political environment of Nepal for Economic Prosperity in Nepal’ was successfully organized by AIDIA in association with Smart Club on May 21, 2016 at SambadDabali, Radio Mirmire Building, 3rd floor, Anamnagar, Kathmandu which witnessed an enthusiastic response and participation from students and youth from different sectors. Political environment and economic progress, both are interrelated with every aspect of Nepal and AIDIA and Smart Club felt that it would be a very relevant subject for today’s youth. The speaker for the session was Mr. Jay Nishant, Parliament Program Director and Core Member of Millennium Challenge Corporation, USA.
The session began with Mr. Uttam Paudel (Secretary of Smart Club) giving an introduction of Smart Club, AIDIA and Mr. Jay Nishant and welcomed the guest on the stage. Mr. Nishant initiated his lecture in a positive way and made it very clear that he will not make it a class rather he wants it to be interactive and participative.
Mr. Nishant first shared his experiences of working with a wide range of stakeholders, including but not limited to politicians, development activists, youth, academics and so on. He further went on to mention how the political arithmetic too was changing with the changing times. Amongst the subjects raised was the subject of increased female participation in politics and how the constitution guaranteed one-third female participation in parliament. Interestingly, the participants raised some suspicions at this point. They were sceptical whether the women who had now entered the corridors of power were actually interested in and committed to politics or were there just because of the pervasive nepotism and favouritism that exists in Nepali society. In response to this, Mr. Nishant also shared similar concerns, as he illustrated how politicians had been exploiting the system to ensure their influence by selecting their wives and relatives as parliamentarians.
He then dived into the three major focuses of the session which are described hereafter.
a. The role in Nepal and why it is of constitution so emphasized in the present context.
‘Why is it that countries such as UK and Israel, which have no written constitution, are so developed and our country, which has changed seven constitutions in the last sixty-five years so lagging behind in development?’ A question as important as this demands a critical analysis of the whole purpose of a constitution. Here, the participants re-assessed their notions and conceptions regarding the constitution one more time after listening to Mr. Nishant and taking part in the discussions that his arguments engendered.
Speaking on the other theme of the day, economic prosperity, he demonstrated how depending on constitution as the panacea for all ills and regarding it as final ‘writing on the wall’ had stunted Nepalese development over all these years. The political turmoil and the environment it created made the citizens believe that constitution was the solution to all the economic hardships the country was facing. However, after all this time, we have not seen any significant economic progress in the country. He thus linked it as nothing but a ploy of politicians to frame us into thinking that we will stride leaps of prosperity once we have a constitution.
But Mr. Nishant was not totally dismissive of the constitution though and called it the base of democratic economic development. To get a perfect summary of what the participants thought about the importance of the constitution after the session, a participant, Mr. Bipin Rimal, 17, was asked about what he thinks is the role of constitution in economic advancement. To this he replied, ‘Just as Mr. Nishant said, constitution is the soul of a democracy; it sets a system and that system is responsible for development. Constitution is not everything but it is a very important thing.’
b. Is political instability a scapegoat created by the political class to cover their incompetence and failures?
When Mr. Nishant asked what the most necessary pre-requisite for economic development was, the participants unanimously replied that it was ‘political stability.’ He, however, gave the examples of countries like Japan and Turkey, where MPs often engage themselves in outrageous fights in parliament and where ministers and high ranking administrators are frequently charged with corruption. He gave the audience enough examples to illustrate the fact that without a stable government or even in a turbulent situation, nations can prosper economically.
“We have always blamed unstable politics for the lack of development in each and every sector of the country, but history tells us and present shows us that countries can be developed even amidst political turbulence”, Mr. Nishant quipped. In fact, from the vigorous discussions that followed these assertions, the members finally came to realise that what was most important for economic prosperity was not political instability or youth involvement or even transparent administration but the real will to change and prosper.
When coupled with some brilliant examples of the current scenario, we arrived at the next heading ‘What Nepal really needs for economic progress.’
c. What Nepal really needs for economic progress?
‘Even if there was a probable corruption of a sum as huge as twenty billion, we must have let the Fast Track be constructed.’
It is not often that someone makes a claim as bold as this. Mr. Nishant then went on to back his claim with adequate reasoning. He first pointed out that the benefits of the Fast Track, ranging from the economic to cultural, would have far outweighed the cost and, whatever the cost, we would have a highway like none other in South Asia. Fear of corruption—laughable in a way because we are already amongst the most corrupt countries in the world—the extraneous nationalism and political brainwashing have halted many development projects and discouraged many investors in our country.
Why does this happen? The participants and Mr. Nishant arrived at the conclusion that development, especially economic development, has never been a top agenda for the governments and political parties in Nepal. ‘Their sole aim is to gain power and retain power,’ as he so realistically mentioned.
Unless the political parties and clusters, whatever their differences, unite for a single common final mission, i.e. economic prosperity, Nepal will lag behind in development and poverty will continue to be our identity.
Mr. Nishant left the stage with a powerful message. On the occasion of Buddha Purnima, he gave us a challenge, suggestion and advice. ‘We shout everywhere that we are the country of Mt. Everest, which was formed 50 million years ago, and we shout that we are the country of Buddha, who was born 2600 years ago. This is the way how we introduce ourselves to the world, but, proud as it may seem, this is also a shameful reminder that in the last 2600 years we have done nothing that can make us known to the world. The challenge is to the youth to create a new mark of Nepalese identity.’
Kathmandu, the 21st May, 2016
Political Environment for economic prosperity in Nepal: A discussion
Official banner for the event
Student Participants at the event
Mr. Nishant speaking at the event
Speaker for the program being facilitated by the organizers
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