What kind of state should Nepal become? A Capitalist State? A Socialist State? or will it be a Communist State? For the past few decades, Nepali politics has revolved around over answering this one ideological question. In the 21st century, Nepali politics has got to get out of this singular obsession over conceptualizing an ‘ideal state’ and start focusing upon actually “delivering” a prosperous Nepali democracy.
To ‘deliver’ a prosperous, democratic Nepal, we have to be courageous enough to bring a paradigm shift in Nepali politics and the way it delivers. For this to happen, we have to pragmatically transform not just the state, but also our citizens, our society and our government. If we assume a state to be the roof of a nation, then its foundations, walls and pathways inside are the citizens, society and the government . If we do not build these strong, the house will soon collapse. Looking back at many of our political upheavals if there is one thing clear, it is that politics not only has to be new, it has to be distinctly different. That is why 21st century Nepali politics has to innovative its action, values, systems and ideals. To build a peaceful, prosperous nation, we have to transform all four pillars of a modern nation; the citizen, the society, the government and the state. Here’s how:
- Building BibekSheel (judicious) citizens
- Building an entrepreneurial society
- Building a servant government
- Building a friendly state
- BibekSheel (Judicious) citizens:
If majority of our citizens have a hard time distinguishing what is right and wrong, then how will society and the government that we build become a good one? If citizens decide to suffer through injustices instead of fighting them responsibly, what kind of state will they build? If citizens and their families have very little of the 21st century relevant human values within us, the choices we make and the actions we take will build an apathetic leadership that is corrupt, without integrity and filled with nepotism. Hence the country becomes a farce filled with syndicates full of autocrats who rule in the name of democracy. That is why to build Nepal as a competent modern nation, we have to build citizens with strong moral values. When Nepalis become judicious or bibeksheel, they will lay the grounds to build a state that is friendly and just towards its citizens.
a) Integrity: Citizens with integrity are the medium through which our society cleanses its moral corruption. To stop this society focused more on ‘petty’ selfish interests than on communal harmony and service towards others, we must start building citizens with integrity. A citizen with integrity is honest in his or her intentions and always stands for the truth s/he judiciously believes in.
b) Transparency: Corruption is a cancer in Nepali society afflicting ordinary citizens to the ones ruling the country. So the best way to uproot corruption is to build a culture of transparency. Only when citizens are transparent in their affairs, they will value accountability, and seek the same from others; corruption will then fail to be the norm. Transparency exposes the root causes of corruption from afar. BibekSheel citizens believe in transparency.
c) Excellence: Citizens who aspire for excellence in themselves and others, will build a dignified, tolerant and prosperous democracy in Nepal. Sadly today’s Nepali society has become rife with nepotism and favoritism. Only persistent pursuit of excellence will rid this affliction. As Nepali citizens value excellence, we will collectively transform into a dynamic and innovation seeking nation ready to prosper in the 21st century.
d) Courage: We have become “individually excellent but collectively a failure”. When even excellent people of the Nepali society do not dare to act upon injustices in our society, we become a fatalistic society. Those who can not build courage within themselves to show the truth in Nepali society, they cannot stay BibekSheel citizens for long.
e) Empathy: If we aim to build a peaceful prosperous Nepal in our lifetime, we each have to cultivate an empathetic culture accepting and embracing diversity in our thoughts, ideas and practices. In a diverse Nepal, only citizens who are empathetic towards each other can keep this youthful, multi-cultural, geographically diverse country united.
f) Humility: We need humble citizens to build a culture where one thinks more about others and less about themselves. We need to realize that only together we can transform this society to one of generous and serving nature.
To build a peaceful and prosperous Nepal, we have to instill these ‘BibekSheel’ values on a critical mass of citizens.
2) An Entrepreneurial Society:
Nepali society unfortunately has become a terrible burden for our democracy by embracing a culture of ‘dependency’, through nepotism and favoritism. It has further exacerbated this by sending its most productive and talented able-bodied men and women (4 million+ in 2015) abroad to work to send money back (29 % of Nepali economy of 2015 ran on remittance money). The society has gone all wrong where social service has become the quickest way to become the most affluent while those who want to start on their own often find a hostile environment to succeed honestly and in fact discouraged by the society. The only alternative to this ‘parasitic’ society is a distinctly entrepreneurial society that accepts values like sustainability, creativity, courage, persistence, independence and excellence. Nepal needs an entrepreneurial society that accepts excellence and meritocracy at its core to uproot the corrupt environment of nepotism and favoritism.
An entrepreneurial society always strives to inspire citizens to become independent, creating a culture that judges on the basis of diligence, character and actions, away from nepotism, allegiance or ethnicity. An entrepreneurial society uses meritocracy to challenge the status-quo using pragmatic reforms to continuously develop our nation. This culture creates a Nepal where its citizens no longer are compelled to go work abroad and instead can find dignified work back home. It creates a dependable environment for youths to get the confidence to create opportunities in Nepal. If we want Nepal to turn from just a place of our birth into a land of opportunity, we need to transform our society onto an entrepreneurial society.
3) A Servant Government:
Nepal has had its share of democratic governments but never gotten the “servant” government it always sought. We fought hard for democracy but not much into its actual delivery to citizens. Political parties exhausted all their energies on to get into power leaving them wholly unprepared to ‘serve’ the nation. They sacrificed much to reach the seat of power but used them as rewards for their painful struggles and sacrifices. So the dream of a servant government has remained an illusion. A servant government builds citizen-friendly democratic government institutions. to create a conducive environment for citizens to become peaceful and prosperous. To carry this out, on one hand, it establishes the rule of law and on the other, protects the dignity of both the state and its citizens. It confirms to the supremacy of its constitution and its laws while staunchly protecting the interests of citizens busy creating an entrepreneurial society. It establishes locally governing democratic institutions building each village and city into sustainable entities. An efficient, accountable, delivery oriented ‘servant government’ always plays a balancing, and facilitating role between a citizen and her state. That is why if we want Nepal to become 21st century relevant, we have to create a servant government.
4) A Friendly State:
A state and its citizens are two sides of the same coin, hence we have to prioritize both their interests delicately. Social and economic development is only possible if we keep a cordial relationship between the state and its citizens. For this to happen, both have to be clear in their obligations and rights. Nepal becomes a friendly state only when it makes necessary policies to help citizens socially and economically, which it then implements efficiently through a servant government. A friendly state facilitates equal opportunities for its citizens and is always ready to help them when they seek help.
Similarly it creates an environment of co-existence, collaboration and balance between the interests of a citizen and society. Taking a balancing ‘middle’ path, the friendly state neither limits itself to a capitalist state nor does it conform to the communist model of state. In a friendly state, ordinary citizens take into account the state’s interests and do their necessary duties to carry out that. Likewise the state focuses on a citizen’s interests and ensures their freedom to carry out their dreams.
When citizens, society, government and the state intervene in these positive ways, citizens of Nepal become more responsible while the leadership becomes more accountable. In this Nepal, hardworking citizens embark upon the road to prosperity confidently using the freedom and passion they need in their pursuit of such while the government becomes agile and focused on delivering the right environment for such. In such a Nepal, citizens will embrace their diversity to create an inclusive society, while the government builds open and evolving systems needed to protect a 21st century democracy in Nepal. This will make sure that Nepal will become a peaceful, prosperous country within our lifetime.
Economists have predicted that as close as 2030 AD, China might become the most prosperous nation in the world while India is expected to be the third most prosperous just behind the United States. Imagine Nepal of tomorrow, between such prosperous nations! This clearly presents us an existential crisis and an opportunity. That is why we need to start transforming not just the way our state runs, but also how our citizens, our society and our government-run. Let us take this opportunity to build a Nepal which has BibekSheel citizens, entrepreneurial society, servant government and a friendly state! A peaceful, prosperous Nepal is within our sights!