Taking economy at heart, I argue to vote for Leftist alliance in in upcoming elections.

Currently, Nepal’s economic policy is a jungle juice. There is no recipe for it and everyone has their own interpretation of it. Those who are rich enough to exploit it are getting richer day and night, those who can’t afford to exploit it are blacked out. But the economic system upcoming government going to adapt will have a very long lasting effect on Nepal’s economy and every single Nepali’s livelihood.

Observing what the political parties are saying, there are a clear two school of economic thought in Nepal advocating for two very different economic model Nepal is going to adapt in near future;

  1. Trickle Down Economy
  2. Capitalist Economy With Progressive Tax System

The first school of thought (Trickle down Economy) is the election agenda of Nepali Congress and his new ally and famous Nepali economist Dr Baburam Bhattarai and a new born Kathmandu based party Bibeksheel Sajha Party.

The second school of thought (Capitalist Economy with Progressive Tax System) is the election agenda of Leftist alliance (CPN UML and Maoist Centre)

What are Nepali Congress (NC) and Dr Baburam Bhattarai saying?

In simple words NC and Dr Bhattarai are saying that they would “create environment” for the wealthy foreigners to come to Nepal and invest into big projects such as hydro-electricity. The idea is simple The wealth will trickle-down from the rich to poor if the government “creates environment” for the wealthy;

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The idea is simple and looks reasonable but it is an idea that is trailed and failed elsewhere in the world. This is an ultra-capitalist idea but potentially paralyzing the capitalism itself.

Nepali Congress and Rabindra Mishra’s fondness of trickle-down economy is understandable. NC initially fought for social justice in Nepal and threw out the Ranas who were the less than 1% of Nepal controlling almost every wealth generated in Nepal. But later instead of taking the wealth from the Ranas and Shahs, handful of NC leaders joined the 1% club to control the country’s wealth. Rabindra Mishra on other hand comes from the loyal royalist background whose fondness of Nepali and British monarchy is an open secret. Obliviously he would advocate the economy that would “create environment” for wealthy.

Riddle of Dr Bhattarai and billionaire Chaudhary

But Dr Bhattarai advocating for trickle-down economy is something I can’t understand. He had been advocating for progressive tax and “European” model of economy after peace-agreement. But since a couple of years he has been advocating the for trickle-down economy. Why?

Although a I don’t understand the motive of Dr Bhattarai, I am sure I know the motive of billionaire Mr Binod Chaudhary.

A lot of Nepali people are surprised and have no clue why Billionaire Mr Binod Chaudhary joined NC however, Mr Chaudhary himself has a plan! And its not a mere chair of MP he is after, but to make NC-Bhattarai alliance work to deliver the trickle down economy and absorb the wealth of middle class of Nepal until they are economically screwed. If the regulations are relaxed and the tax is lowered, people like Mr Chaudhary will be investing in real estates and other “wealth reservoir” in cities like Kathmandu and Narayangarh instead of opening a noodle factory somewhere else in the world. And such an investment mean already skyrocketed land/property prices in Kathmandu will be a dream far away for the middle class of Nepal. They can only think of renting one, will never will they be able to buy.

What does trickle-down economy do?

The good example of what trickle-down economy does is the USA and UK. Ronald Reagan’s economic policies in the USA and Margaret Thatcher in the UK adapted this economy and still now this is effectively the economic policy of both countries. Mrs Thatcher “created the environment” for the wealthiest foreigner to come to the UK and invest their money there by lowering the tax to the ultra-rich while the tax for the middle class and poor were the same or increased. The consequence: The trickle-down economy worked!! But to the opposite direction; the wealth trickled up to the wealthy from the poor. In fact the wealthy foreigner invested in the vital sectors such as London’s housing, skyrocketing the price of house or land then eventually forcing out the new generation of local from their house because they can’t afford to buy one. Then came the generation rent. Now almost half of the UK rents their houses. The rich are getting even richer and ultra-rich from Russia, Middle-east, China are flocking to the UK while half of the population can’t afford to live on their wages.  Surprisingly the GDP is still strong! The wealthy new investors create the mask for the economy making GDP higher, but inside it’s at the brink of collapse and the new generation is left screwed. BBC programme Panorama suggests that, to buy a new apartment in central London, a Londoner with average wage will have to work more than 200 years!!

                     What they say?                                        What happens in reality?

If the NC – Dr Bhattarai alliance wins, they will “create environment” for the wealthy foreign or local born investors which means they will reduce the tax for ultra-rich like ex-King Gyanendra and Binod Chaudhary. Dr Bhattarai is even advocating to “give chance” to the people who have reservoirs of black money to make it legal “for once”. This is craziest and even ultra-capitalist view than of Mrs Thatcher or Mr Regan.

If NC –Mr Bhattarai win and deliver what they promise; in Kathmandu the local born ultra-rich or rich Chinese or Indian would invest in the real estate and no Nepali would be able to buy a house there. This will mainly bite the middle-class first. The new generation of Kathmandu middle-class will vanish, if Mishra or NC – Bhattarai alliance deliver what they say. This is one example, every sector will have similar consequences. Since Nepal’s in-born wealthy are very few it will be the foreign investors that will mainly benefit. This will eventually bite our middle class and eventually another struggle will become inevitable.

What are Left alliance saying?

Left alliance has clearly signaled that they will be strict to the ultra-rich, especially to the foreign investors. They say they will adopt “European” style capitalism with altruistic philanthropic government where ultra-rich are heavily taxed then the state generously gives back to everyone including ultra-rich.

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The sign of left alliance’s economic policy is good and much healthier for future than the trickle-down approach of NC- Dr Bhattarai alliance and Mr Mishra.

In one small but very successful trail, Maoist has promoted the local capital through “Ujayalo Nepal Abhiyan”. Started by then energy minister and Maoist leader Janardan Sharma, this focuses on collecting capital from Nepalese working abroad and investing into hydro power, then consuming energy in the country. (Surprisingly, the policy is brain-child if Dr Bhattarai who is now strongly advocating for trickle-down economy.) This approach has worked and if the left alliance deliveres what it promised accumulating and promoting local wealth while carefully welcoming foreign investment, this is really a good approach, especially the middle-class will hugely benefit.

Having said all this, it is hard to believe either NC- Mr Bhattarai alliance or Leftist alliance will ever deliver what they say. The choice is yours!!

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Buddha, nagging monk and Nepali Congress Cadres

 

We recently had Buddha Purnima, remembering the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. We pride ourselves that Buddha was born in Lumbini in modern-day Nepal, around the year 563 BCE. But how much do we learn from him? How much, we as a Nepali read his story and teachings and follow?

Here I draw two parallel modern Nepal story where some Nepali are doing opposite of what Buddha taught.

Buddha’s teaching: 

  • Buddha and his disciples

One day in monsoon season Buddha was walking by the jungle with his disciples. On the way they reached a river which was starting to flood due to monsoon rain and there was a beautiful young girl wandering by the riverbank trying to cross the river. Buddha saw that and offered his help to the girl. Holding her hand Buddha helped her cross the river; the girl thanked him and went her way, Buddha and his disciples went their way.

When they reached their destination, one of the monk expressed his unhappiness about the incident, Buddha smiled and said nothing. A few days later Buddha was preaching about meaninglessness of earthly relationships, the monk again said “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then hold the hand of that girl?”

This time Buddha replied, “I left the girl a long time ago at the riverbank, however, you seem to be holding her hands still.”

The moral of this story is that mental attachment to an idea or earlier experience blocks the full experience of the present here and now. Attachments slow the mind, interfering with appropriate responses to the immediate situation. And eventually distract us from our progress and future development.

Two stories of Modern Nepal:

  • Historic Peace deal in Nepal and Kanak Mani war cultivation company

12-Point Understanding between the Seven Political Parties and Nepal Communist Party (Maoists) leading to Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). In this agreement, the parties pledge to work towards democracy, peace, prosperity and social advancement and ending autocratic monarchy. The parties agree that the National Army and the Maoist army shall be under the supervision of the UN or any other reliable international actor, to conduct fair elections, and to accept international mediation during the dialogue process. Including through the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a National Peace and Rehabilitation Commission.

Although main leadership and majority of population have moved forward from the war there are people like Mohan Baidhya (Kiran) and Netra Bikram Chand (Biplab) complaining about Maoist and Nepal Army integration. There are also Kanak Mani Dixit and company nagging about the war time events and complaining about TRC and NPRC. Kanak Mani Dixit war Cultivation Company benefits a lot from war, the more war and death the more of news for his media group and more of so called human rights agenda for his empire and eventually more donation. His mere existence is a sad existence who lives on the benefits from people’s death. Fundamentally the same applies to Netra Bikram Chand too.

The moral of this is that unnecessarily nagging to an idea or every war time experience blocks the full experience of the present here and now. Attachments to their personal benefits from war slow Nepal’s progressive socio-political change and prolongs transition period, interfering with appropriate responses to the immediate situation. And eventually distract us from our progress and future development of the country. This will benefit people like Netra Bikram Chand and Kanak Mani Dixit but the country will suffer.

  • CPN (Maoist Centre) and Nepali Congress leaders & protesting NC Cadres

Ruling coalition partners–Nepali Congress and CPN-Maoist Centre–have finally agreed to partner up for elections of mayors in two metropolitan cities of Nepal.

Some of the Nepali Congress cadres in Bharatpur are furious about the alliance and think teaming up with Maoist is unacceptable because they were the enemy at war time. Maybe some of these Nepali Congress cadres still have hangover of war like the disciple of Buddha whereas the leadership has moved forward from it.

The moral of this story is that few Nepali Congress cadres still have mental attachment to war era idea or earlier experience which has blocked the full experience of the present here and now. The present or now of Federal Democratic Nepal is that there is no war and there are no enemies. There was 12-Point Understanding and then A Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The appropriate response to immediate situation is that all the parties who believe in democratic republic should stand together by eliminating fassist Rashtriya Prajatantra Party Nepal of Kamal Thapa. The attachments to the war era seems to have slowed the minds of Nepali Congress cadres in Bharatpur, interfering with appropriate responses to the immediate situation.  And eventually this and likely events distract us from our progress, peaceful politics and future development.