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May 25, 2010

Pani Photo: A review

Today I watched the play "Pani Photo"at Gurukul.The play is written by Khagendra Lamichhane. Pani Photo is about an old couple whose only son has been missing (kidnapped) during the period of insurgency in the country. The play brilliantly depicts the series of everyday events that remind the couple of their son and thereby their hopes with regards to him. The couple is not only devastated by their loss but also fed up with the constant hovering of media and other parties that try to capitalize on their tragedy. Equally frustrated are they with the politicians who try make out their ends by making rosy promises of finding their son. The couple comfort their ailing memories with the only photo they have of their son until one day that photograph also goes missing!

Pani photo is a well directed, well acted and well scripted play. The intermittent jokes and humorous scenes help to tone down an otherwise an emotionally overwhelming play. The typical rural setting and cultural resemblances entertain the audience. However, the ending of the play is too abrupt and leaves the audience bitterly disappointed. The play could be much better with an extended ending!

आजदीले नै संसारमा सबै फरक पार्दछ ।

सिद्धान्त सात
आजादीले नै संसारमा सबै फरक पार्दछ ।

माथिका ६ सिद्धान्तहरु मार्फत पनि अझै आफ्नो कुरामा प्रशस्त जोड दिन सकिनकी जस्तो लागेर मैले यो सातौं र अन्तिम सिद्धान्त थपेको छु ।

आजादी कुनै एउटा राम्रो वा आरामदायी विचार मात्रै होइन् । न त यो कुनै सुखद परिस्थिति वा आत्मरक्षाको कुनै साधारण अवधारणा मात्रै नै हो । आजादी त्यस्तो कुरा हो जसले अरु सम्पूर्ण कुरा हुनमा अह्म भूमिका खेल्छ । आजादी नहुने हो भने राम्रोमा जीवन निरर्थक हुन्छ नराम्रोमा जीवन नै रहदैन् ।

जुन सार्वजनिक नीतिले आजादी हटाउँछ वा आजादीलाई संरक्षण वा सुढ्रीडिकरन गर्ने काम गदैन भने त्यस्ता सार्वजनिक नीतिप्रति स्वतन्त्रताप्रेमीहरु सजग र सशंकित हुनु जरुरी छ । उनीहरुले सोध्नुपर्छः हामीले हाम्रो आजादी दिए वापत के पाइराखेका छौ त? आशा गरौं यो कुनै अल्कपलीन लाभ नहोंस् । अझ बेन फ्र्यन्क्लिनले त हामीलाई सल्लाह दिएका छन "जो अस्थायी सुरक्षा किन्नका लागि आफ्नो आधारभूत स्वतन्त्रता दिन तयार हुन्छन् उनीहरु न त सुरक्षाका हकदार हुन्छन् न त स्वतन्त्रता कै ।

आजकल प्रायः नीति निर्माताहरु नयाँ नीति बनाउँदा स्वतन्त्रतालाई के असर पर्छ भन्ने विचार नगरिकन बनाउँछन् । आफूलाई राम्रो महशुस भयो भने वा राम्रो सुनियो भने वा आफूलाई निर्वाचित गराउन मदत गर्ने किसिमको नीति देखे भने बनाइहाल्छन् । जसले स्वतन्त्रताका आधारलाई लिएर प्रश्न उठाउँछ उसलाई हास्यपद बनाउने वा पर सार्ने कोसिस गरिन्छ । आज सबै तहको सरकारले हामीले गरेको सम्पूर्ण उत्पादनको ४२ प्रतिशत लिएर जान्छ र उपभोग गर्छ जबकि १९०० सम्ममा केवल ६ देखि ७ प्रतिशत मात्र उपभोग गथ्र्यो । तर पनि थोरै मात्र मान्छेहरु ठूलो सरकारका समर्थकहरुलाई प्रश्न गर्छन,"४२ प्रतिशतले किन पुग्दैन?" "अझै कति चैं चाहन्छौ तिमीहरु?"  वा "कति सम्म चाहिँ मानिसले आफ्नो श्रमको फल पाउनुपर्छ भनेर सोच्छौं  तिमीहरु?"

Present anarchy and the future of freedom

-Surath Giri

"None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free." -Goethe

The prevailing anarchy in the country seems to have taken its toll on the importance of freedom. While discussing on ways to get Nepal out of this mess and start on the path of progress, I mentioned that we need to have more freedom in all aspects of our lives upon which I encountered a passionate criticism from a person. “If you let people have more freedom, if you leave most things to the market, then that would just perpetuate looting that is continuing at the moment. We need a strong, authoritarian government to set things straight and bring prosperity, “he said.

With the widespread anarchy and impunity, our society is getting extremely unfavorable for living. Violence and terror seem to have spread in all aspects of our lives. With everyone claiming numerous rights and initiating violence to achieve their ends, it not surprising that general people have started to think the concept of freedom has gone too far in this country. At the same time, collectivists seem to be gaining a stronghold in the public discourses these days. However, confusing anarchy with freedom and thereby asking for an authoritarian government would be a great folly that will further make our lives miserable. What is really needed is the understanding the principles of a free society, how a free society looks like and making demands that are justifiable. First step in understanding a free society is; understanding the difference between anarchy or impunity and freedom.

Anarchy and Freedom: Cain and Abel of the society

The underlying principle of freedom is that if you want to enjoy certain rights of yours, you must respect the similar rights of others. Any rights that interfere with similar rights of others cannot be a right.  Anyone who seeks a coercive power over others for any reasons in the name of freedom is truly despicable. What we are experiencing in our country is anarchy, lawlessness. Not in any sense is it freedom at all. Anarchy, like Cain can kill freedom easily when a society degenerates into the rule of the mob from rule of law.

A free society demands the rule of law and that no one should be allowed to initiate violence against others. There is nothing called freedom to initiate force against others. Only the government, for very limited purposes like maintaining law and order, administrating justice, and preventing citizens from hurting each other, is allowed to use force. A free society demands the security of life and property of every citizen, not only that of the rulers or organized groups. What we need to understand here is a free society is in fact a society where rule of law is maintained.

The transitory period and political instability has coupled together to create an anarchic society in our country.  Violent criminal activities are mushrooming all over the country, many of which are being promoted in the name of rights and freedom, and yet the government is acting as helpless as the victims of the crimes themselves. Everyday we hear and experience cases of extortion, kidnapping, rape and murder. Political parties themselves are the de facto, leader of such activities. When political parties who have been elected to government with the hope that they will protect our lives and properties, themselves are the carrying out criminal activities of confiscating private properties,  extorting money, destroying properties, kidnapping and murdering people, how can we say our society is free? It is just anarchy that we are experiencing. The worrying fusion of the concept of anarchy and freedom is endangering our freedom and our hope of becoming a prosperous society.
A classis example of ineffective government contributing in the anarchy is, while organized criminal groups are kidnapping and murdering people everyday, the government is turning a blind eye to these activities. Whereas at the same time, government is introducing laws like banning export of orchids, forcing cigarette companies to put statutory directives covering more than three fourths of their cigarette packets in the name of providing security to the people. It’s an irony that state is failing to save you from being kidnapped and killed but is seriously concerned that you might not know cigarettes are harmful for your health and you might die by smoking. The first case is the case of government promoting anarchy whereas in the latter case, the government is encroaching on our freedom.
More freedom: Path to destruction or prosperity?

Is more freedom necessary? The answer is yes, an absolute yes. If we want more prosperity and a peaceful society, more freedom is a must. In fact, if we look at our history, we have never been free although we are fond of pointing to the fact that our country was never colonized as a gesture of freedom. Through pre-modern Nepal to Rana rule to Shah Rule to the collectivist governments after the advent of democracy, we have always been oppressed by the state.
Rana rule sowed the seed of darkness and impoverishment with their autocratic rule that denied the citizens of political, civil and economic freedom. The rule that punished entrepreneurship, innovation, hard-work, and creativity, where whims of the rulers became the law, where getting educated was a sign of disobedience and heretical, where your property is only secure until it doesn't catch the greedy eyes of the rulers and  their patronized opportunists, is never supposed to bring any growth and prosperity and it did not. Rana rulers used coercion to get rich at the expenses of the general citizens. Shah rule continued down the same path though with lesser privileges and the democratic governments did the same though their power of oppression was considerably limited.
We have known freedom helps to bring out the best in people and society. In depths look at the flourishing media sector and finance sector after the economic liberalization of 1990s provides sufficient examples for the importance of freedom. If freedom were not so important why do we clamor about press freedom, freedom of speech, rights of self determination so much? If freedom didn’t work, why are our media and financial sectors and recently telecommunications sector so better off as compared to other sectors like hydropower, industries, agriculture? Freedom works! Our giant neighbors who unlike us had to face the clutches of colonization before and internal state oppression there after are now basking in freedom and taking the world head on , especially after the economic liberalization of 1990s in India and 1980s in china. If freedom didn’t work why couldn’t India develop during the second half of the twentieth century and why couldn’t china develop until 1980s?
If our media and financial sector could be so competent with freedom, imagine how our educational system or our tourism sector would develop if freed from the clutches of the state and oppressors? If we could free the transportation sector from cartels and stringent government regulations, wouldn’t we be using better buses or transport services? If we could free the petroleum sector from the coercive monopoly of the state, wouldn’t we get petroleum products easily? We saw what happened to Nepal Telecom after it was relatively freed?

Yes, freedom works and anarchy doesn’t! If we want to be prosperous, having more freedom and less anarchy is the only way!

(Published in The BOSS magazine, Mar 15 -Apr 14  2011 issue.)

May 16, 2010

अरु कसैसँग लिएको बाहेक सरकारसँग कसैलाई दिने केही हुँदैन र जुन सरकार तपाईलाई सबैकुरा दिन सक्ने गरिको ठूलो हुन्छ त्यो सरकार तपाईको सबैकुरा खोस्न सक्नेगरिको नै ठूलो हुन्छ ।

सिद्धान्त छ
अरु कसैसँग लिएको बाहेक सरकारसँग कसैलाई दिने केही हुँदैन र जुन सरकार तपाईलाई सबैकुरा दिन सक्ने गरिको ठूलो हुन्छ त्यो सरकार तपाईको सबैकुरा खोस्न सक्नेगरिको नै ठूलो हुन्छ ।

यो कुनै अतिवादी,सिद्धन्तवादी,सरकार विरोधी अभिव्यक्ति होइन । यो सत्य कुरा हो । यस अभिव्यक्तिले सरकारको प्रकृतिको बारेमा धेरै कुरा बताउँछ । अमेरिकाका प्रवर्तकहरुको सोचाइ र सल्लाह पनि यसै अनुसारको थियो ।

भनिन्छ सरकार आगो सरह हो खतरनाक नोकर वा त्रसित मालिक । यसबारे गहिरिएर सोचिहेर्नुस त । हाम्रा राष्ट्रपिताहरुले चाहेभन्दा ठूलो नभएपनि र साँच्चै जनताको सेवक नै भन्न मिल्ने गरि काम गरे पनि यो अझै खतरनाक नै हुन्छ । ग्राउचो माक्स्रले एकचोटि आफ्नो भाइ हार्पोलाई भनेका थिए "ऊ इमान्दार छ तर उसलाई निगरानी गर्न चाहिँ जरुरी छ ।" एकदमै साना र असल सरकारको पनि निगरानी गर्न जरुरी छ किनकी जेफस्रनले भनेझैं सरकारको प्रकृति नै विस्तार हुने किसिमको हुन्छ र त्यसैगरि आजादी चाँही खुम्चिने प्रकृतिको हुन्छ । एकचोटि सरकारको नालिबेली निर्धारण गरेर हिँड्छु भनेर हुँदैन सरकारलाई आफ्नो ठाउँमा राखिराख्न र हाम्रो आजादीलाई सुरक्षित राख्न हामीले निरन्तर निगरानी राख्न जरुरी छ ।

उक्त कथित "कल्याणकारी राज्य" पीटरसँग लुटेर पीटरको सम्पत्ति संवेदना हिन खर्चालु कर्मचारीतन्त्रका मार्फत विनाश गरिसकेपछि पौललाई दिने प्रपन्च बाहेक केही होइन । कल्याणकारी राज्य भनेको घोडाको माध्यमबाट भँगेरालाई खुवाउनु जस्तै हो । यसलाई अर्को तरिकाले हेरिहेरौं कल्याणकारी राज्य भनेको हामी सबैजना एउटा ठूलो घेरा बनाएर उभिइरहेका छौ र हामी सबैको हात आफूभन्दा अगाडि उभिने मान्छेको खल्तीमा छ । कसैले एकचोटि भनेको थियो नेताहरुको कल्याण हुने र जनताले चैं कर तिर्ने भएको भएर यसको नाम कल्याणकारी भएको हो ।

स्वतन्त्र र स्वाधीन मानिसहरुले आफ्नो जीविकोर्पाजनका लागि सरकारको मुख ताक्दैनन् । उनीहरु सरकारलाई सित्तैमा भनेको चीज पाइने कल्पवृक्षको रुपमा नहेरेर आफ्नो स्वतन्त्रताको रक्षकको रुपमा हेर्छन जसले आफ्ना आधारभूत कामहरु गर्छ जस्तै शान्तिकायम गर्ने , सबैजनालाई अवसर व्रिद्दी हुने काम ,नियम कानूनको व्यवस्थापन आदि र यसबाहेक अन्य अवस्थामा हामीलाई एक्लै छोडिदिन्छ । सरकारमा धेरै भरपर्नु एकदम खतरनाक हुन्छ भन्ने कुरा प्राचीन रोम देखिका सभ्यताहरुले पीडादायी तरिकाले सिक्दै आएका छन् ।

जब तपाईका प्रतिनिधी तपाईकहाँ आएर "हेर्नुस मैले तपाईलाई के-के ल्याइदिएको छु ।" भन्छन तपाईले सोध्नुहोला ती वस्तुको मूल्यचाहिँ कसले चुकायो । यदी उहाँ इमान्दार रहेछन् भने भन्ने छन उहाँले तपाईका लागि केही कुरा ल्याउन सक्नुको कारण अरु कसैबाट लिएर नै हो र त्यसैगरि अन्य प्रतिनिधिहरुले आफ्ना जनतामा लिएर जाने चीजहरुको मूल्य तपाईले चुकाइराख्नु भएको छ ।

May 15, 2010

Herod's Law (1999) : A review

I watched this Mexican movie after seeing it as a recommended viewing for libertarians in a couple of websites. And true to the recommendations, the movie bears a strong political satire of corruption in Mexico and the long-ruling PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) party. It aptly tells you about how governments without chains , checks and balances degenerates into an ever evolving parasitic creature that sucks lifeblood of its citizens. The movie is also notable for being the first movie to openly criticize PRI which ruled Mexico for more than 71 years. Despite of being a democracy, open criticism of PRI had been a taboo in the Mexican society, Herod's Law contributed in breaking that taboo and thereby raised a lot of controversy and interference from the then government. As George Orwell once said "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." , the film is said to have had a vital role in PRI losing the elections after ruling for 7 decades.

Juan Vargas, a lowly civil servant, gets appointed the mayor of a small village. All the past mayors of the village have either been lynched or killed for their excessive atrocities. PRI appoints him the mayor believing him to be naive and innocent (which he is at first) and hence a perfect puppet for the party. With good intentions , Vargas starts to build the village but soon realizes there is absolutely no funds left and working responsibly in the corrupt political system is not very practical. When asking for advice, he is handed a copy of the constitution and a revolver and told that only law is Herod's law. Vargas then begins to impose and collect taxes with the point of a gun. With this he assumes all the legislative, executive and judiciary power for the village. He soon turns even more corrupt then his predecessors and all hell breaks loose. Audience are likely to find his following actions too shocking and yet pretty close to the truth.

Though a strong political movie with huge significance, the film is poor in some areas like overacting, and the lack of coherence in the story towards the end. Otherwise, it's a great movie! 

Highly recommended movie to all the libertarians and all the big government supporters as well, who tend to have a too rosy a picture of powerful governments!

Herod's Law (1999)
Director: Luis Estrada
Writer: Luis Estrada
Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish
Contains violence, sexuality and offensive language.

May 12, 2010

आफ्नो पैसा जस्तो ध्यान दिएर अरुको पैसा कसैले पनि खर्च गर्दैन ।

सिद्धान्त पाँच
आफ्नो पैसा जस्तो ध्यान दिएर अरुको पैसा कसैले पनि खर्च गर्दैन ।

कहिल्यै अचम्म मान्नु भएको ५ सरकारले ६०० डलर पर्ने हथौडा र  ८०० डलर पर्ने ट्वाइलेट सीट  खरिद गरेको सुन्दा ? तपाईले यो देशको चप्पा चप्पामा गएर खोज्नु भयो भने पनि त्यस्तो व्यक्ति पाउनुहँुदनै जसले आफ्नो पैसा भएको भए त्यसरी खर्च गर्नेथियो र पनि यस्ता फजूल खर्च सरकारी तथा जीवनमा अन्य अवस्थामा पनि भइरहेका हुन्छन् । किन? किनकी ती सबै अवस्थामा खर्च गर्ने व्यक्तिले अरु कसैको पैसा खर्चिरहेको हुन्छ ।

अर्थशास्त्री मिल्टन फ्रिड्म्यानले यस कुरालाई विस्तृत रुपमा व्याख्या गर्नुभएको छ  र उहाँले औल्याउनुभएको छ पैसा खर्च गर्ने चार तरिका हुन्छन् । जब तपाई आफ्नो पैसा आफूमाथि खर्चिनु हुन्छ तपाईले कमैमात्र गल्ती गनुहुन्छ । पैसा कमाउने खर्च गर्ने र त्यसबाट लाभ हुने व्यक्तिबीचको सम्बन्ध दरिलो प्रत्यक्ष र तत्काल को हुन्छ ।

जब तपाई आफ्नो पैसा अरु कसैलाई उपहार किनिदिनको लागि प्रयोग गर्नुहुन्छ तपाईलाई आफ्नो पैसाको सहि मूल्य पाउने प्रेरणा त हुन्छ तर तपाईले प्रापकले चाहेजस्तै वा उसलाई आवश्यक परेकै चीज किन्नु हुन्छ भन्ने ग्यारेन्टी हुँदैन ।

जब तपाई अरु कसैको पैसा आफ्नो लागि केही किन्नको लागि प्रयोग गर्नुहुन्छ जस्तै खर्चको खाताबाट आफ्नो लागि खाजा खान भने तपाईलाई सही वस्तु पाउने प्रेरणा हुन्छ तर मितव्ययी बन्ने कुनै प्रेरणा हुँदैन ।

अन्त्यमा जब तपाई अन्य व्यक्तिको पैसा अरु कसैको लागि केही किनिदिन प्रयोग गर्नुहुन्छ भने उक्त अवस्थामा कमाउने खर्च गर्ने र लाभ पाउने व्यक्तिबीच कुनै सम्बन्ध हुँदैन जसले गर्दा फजूल खर्च हुने स्रोत हिनामिना हुने सम्भावना सबैभन्दा धेरै हुन्छ । सोच्नुस् त कुनै व्यक्ति अरु कसैको पैसा अरु नै कोहीको लागि खर्च गरिराखेको छ । सरकारले सधै गर्ने नै त्यही हो । र यसै कारणले गर्दा सरकारी स्तरमा धेरै फजुल खर्च हुन्छन् । 

May 8, 2010

कुनै कुरालाई उत्साहित गरे बढी पाउनुहुन्छ ,निरुत्साहित गरे कम पाउनुहुन्छ ।

सिद्धान्त चार 
"कुनै कुरालाई उत्साहित गरे बढी पाउनुहुन्छ ,निरुत्साहित गरे कम पाउनुहुन्छ । "

तपाई र म मानव भएका नाताले प्रेरकको महत्वबाट  अछुतो रहन सक्दैनौं । प्रेरकप्रति हामी सधै प्रतिकि्रया जनाइरहेका हुन्छौ । प्रेरकले हाम्रो व्यवहारलाई प्रभावित तुल्याइरहेका हुन्छन्  कतिपय अवस्थामा अत्यन्त शक्तिशाली रुपमा । नीतिनिर्माताहरु जसले यस कुरालाई बिर्सन्छन , मूर्खतापूर्न काम गरिरहेका हुन्छन् । जस्तै कुनै वस्तु वा सेवामा करको दर बढाउने र मानिसहरुले उक्त वस्तु वा सेवा उत्तिकै मात्रामा प्रयोग गरिहाल्छन नि भनेर सोच्ने मानौं जनताहरु ऊन काट्नका लागि लाम्बद्ध भेडा हरु हुन ।

स्मरण गर्नुस जब जर्ज बुश (प्रथम)ले दबावमा आएर "नयाँ कर " लाउँदिन भनेर १९९८ मा वादा गरेका थिए । सन् १९९० को ग्रीष्ममा करदरमा ठुलो मात्रामा ब्रिद्धी भएको पायौं हामीले । अरु सँगसँगै डुंगा ,हवाइजहाज तथा गहनामा नाट्किय ढंगले सदनले कर बढायो । कानून निर्माताहरुले सोचे यी वस्तुहरु धनीहरुले मात्रै त उपभोग गर्छन्  नि  "ल खाउन"  । यसबाट  उनीहरुले 3 करोड  १० लाख डलर पहिलो वर्षको राजस्वस्वरुप उठ्ने अनुमान गरेका थिए तर भइदियो के भने ब्रिद्धी गरिएको कर दरले राजस्व केवल १ करोड  ६० लाख डलर मात्र ल्यायो । र साथसाथै उच्चदरको करले गर्दा  यी उद्योगहरुमा आएको मन्दीका कारण  बेरोजगार भएका व्यक्तिहरुलाई दिने बेरोजगारी भत्ता स्वरुप अर्को १ करोड ६० लाख बराबरको रकम खर्च भयो । केबल वाशिङ्टन डी सी मा मात्रै होला जहाँ कानून  निर्माताहरु प्राय प्रेरकको महत्व बिर्सन्छन ३१  को लक्ष्य राख्छन्न १६ हासिल गर्छन् र त्यसका लागि २४ खर्च गर्छन् र सोच्छन ठिकै भाको हो भनेर ।

परिवार टुक्राउन चाहनुहुन्छ परिवार टुक्रियमा पाइने कल्याणकारी चेकको रकम बढाइदिनुस । बचत तथा लगानी घटोस भन्ने चाहनुहुन्छ त्यसमाथि दोहोरो कर लगाइदिनोस् र त्यसमाथि अझ पूँजीगत नाफा कर लगाइदिनोस् । मानिसहरुले कम काम गरुन भन्ने चाहनुहुन्छ उच्चदरमा प्रगतिशील कर लगाइदिनुस ताकि मानिसहरुले बढी काम गर्नु बेकार हो भनेर सोचुन ।

अहिले राज्य सरकार र संघीय सरकार दुवैको ध्यान घट्दो राजस्व र आर्थिक मन्दिका कारण आएको घाटालाई  कसरी समाधान गर्ने भन्ने प्रश्नमा आएर अल्झेको छ । म्याकिनक केन्द्रमा हामी के विश्वास गर्छौ भने यस्तो परिस्थितिको समाधान सरकारले त्यसैगरी गर्नुपर्छ जसरी हामी गर्छौ - खर्च कम गरेर । कमजोर अर्थतन्त्रलाई सुचारु गर्ने उपाय नै त्यही हो ताकि यसले बढी रोजगारी र राजस्व सूजना गरोस् । विरामी सिकिस्त भएको बेला डक्टरले झन धेरै रगत निकाल्दैनन् ।