Jan 24, 2011

प्रचण्ड काकाको दैनिक राशिफल र चेप्टो दुनिया

दुईवटा कुराले मलाई यो ब्लगपोस्ट लेख्न प्रेरित गरे- पहिलो हाम्रा महान कम्रेड (काका) प्रचन्डले फेरी (१५७३४२    औं पटक ) सफलतापूर्वक  बोली फेरेका  छन र भन्न थालेका  छन , सत्ता कब्जा त गर्नै पर्छ , हामी सत्ता कब्जा गरेरै छाड्छौं ।अस्ती भर्खर (१५७३४१ औं पटक  )  उहाँले सत्ता कब्जा गर्ने कुरा मिथ्या भएको जानकारी दिनु भएको थियो ।  दोस्रो मैले धेरै समयदेखी पढ्औंला भनेर सोची राखेको  टम फ्रीड्म्यानको "दुनिया चेप्टो छ" भन्ने किताब आधिउधी जस्तो पढ्एर भ्याएँ ।  पढ्नलाई साह्रै रमाईलो र ज्ञानवर्दक यस किताबमा लेखकले यो सन्सारलाई हामीले गोलो , अग्लो-होचो छ भन्ने सोच्ने गरेका थियौं तर सोभियत रुसको पतन, सुचनाप्रविधिको विकास्, व्यापक भुमण्डलीकरणले गर्दा यो विश्व चैं खासमा चेप्टो भैसकेको छ र आजको दुनियामा विश्वका सबै कुनाका मान्छेहरुले समान धरातल्मा उभिएर एक अर्का सँग प्रतिस्पर्धा गर्न सक्छन भन्ने कुरा गरेका छन र आफ्नो गन्थनलाई भरपूर उदाहरणसहित प्रस्तुत गरेका छन । 

यसले गर्दा पहिले पहिले पश्चिमा देशरुले मात्र उपभोग गरिराखेको सम्पन्नता आज हरेकको पहुँचमा छ । १ अर्ब भन्दा कम मानिसले प्रतिस्पर्धा गरिरखेको खेलामा आज ३ अर्बभन्दा बढी मानिस हरुले अहिले प्रतिस्पर्धा गरिराखेका छन । जसका कारण अहिले बिश्वमा अत्यन्त तिब्र गतिमा बिकास भैराखेको छ । र तेही गतिमा भारत , चीन जस्ता मुलुक का मनिस हरु समृद्ध हुँदै गैराखेका छन । भारत बढ्दो उदारिकरणको बाटोमा छ भने चीन बजार अर्थतन्त्र (पुँजिवाद्) लाई बिस्तार गर्ने बाटोमा ।यही क्रम रहिरहने हो भने भारत र चीन बिश्वको अर्थतन्त्रका मुख्य धरोहर बन्न र चीनमा पनि राजनीतिक स्वतन्त्रा आउन धेरै समय बाँकी छैन भन्ने लेखकको तर्क छ ।  साम्यवादी ब्यबस्था टिकाउन चहिने मुख्य आधार सूचना माथी को शासक हरुको एकाधिकार अबको बिश्वमा सम्भव हुने देखिदैन । बढ्दो भूमन्डलिकरण ले गर्दा सरकारहरुको शक्तिमा झन कमी आउने र नागरिक हरुको सशक्तिकरण हुने प्रवृत्ती देखिइराखेको अवस्था छ ।

यस्तोमा प्रचन्ड काकाको राज्य कब्जा को सपना , दिवास्वप्न बहेक अरु केहि होला जस्तो लाग्दैन मलाई । आजको बिश्वको घटनाक्रम सँग राम्रो सँग अभयस्त ब्यक्ती लाई यो कुरा बुझ्न खासै गार्हो पर्दैन । बिश्व पूँजीवाद कि साम्यवादको बहस धेरै पहिले नै छोडेर (रुस लगायत साम्यवादी देशहरुको पतन पछी ) भूमन्डलिकरण को बहसमा पुगिसकेको छ । जुन पनि निर्क्योल जस्तो भैसक्यो । कारण साम्यवादको हारले बिरक्त भएकाहरुले जे जस्तै आरोप लगाएपनी आखिर सम्पूर्ण बिश्वका जनताको आकन्क्षा त भूमन्डलिकारण को बिस्तारको गती र यसबाट  लावान्भित जनताहरुलाई हेरेर नै थाहा हुन्छ नि । एउटा उदाहरण त तपाईंले यो ब्लग पढ्इराख्न पाउनुको पछाडी पनि तीनै शक्ती हरुको हात छ जसले सारा दुनियाँलाई चेप्टो  बनाइराखेका छन ।  तर कठै प्रचन्ड काकालाई यो कुरा कस्ले बुझाइदेओस जो सत्ता पाउनका लागी सत्तै कब्जा भएपनी गर्छु भनेर लागी परेका छन् ।

कहिलेकही मलाई प्रचन्ड काकाले भन्ने कुरा र दैनिक पत्रीकामा प्रकाशित हुने राशिफल उस्तै उस्तै लाग्छन । न त तीनमा कुनै तुक हुन्छ न त तीनलाई कसैले गम्भिरता पुर्वक नै लिन्छ । आज एक थरी भनेकोमा भोली अर्कै थरी हुन्छ , बिना कुनै आधार वा तर्क  । दुबैलाई बिहान उठ्दा भन्नेको  मुड वा चियाको मिठोपन वा तितोपनले निर्धारण गर्छन । 

नोट्: मैले यस पोस्ट लेख्न थाले देखी लेखी सक्दा सम्म काकाले फेरी बोली फेरेर "सत्ता कब्जा नगर्ने जानकारी दिनु भएको छ । "

Jan 17, 2011

Movies that changed US; what about us?

Image Source: www.brightlightsfilm.com
The intensity with which Hollywood dominates the movie world and thereby plays a vital role in reflecting or inspiring public opinions or social values and norms is inconceivably huge. Any film aficionado regardless of his/her nationality or language is more or less bound to reach Hollywood movies at some stage of movie watching. Having watched over a 1000 movies, most of which are from Hollywood, I feel the reason behind the domination of Hollywood isn’t just about the technological edge or the huge investment or merely, the language. One reason among many is also the way its products reflect the social trends of the time and influence the direction of opinions for better or worse in many ways. It’s a quality we rarely find in the so called industries of "Kollywood" or "Bollywood". There’s very little, if any reflection of our social or political consciousness in our movies. No wonder we find it very hard to relate ourselves to our movies.

I recently finished reading a book called “The Movies That Changed Us: Reflections on the Screen” by the famous movie critic Nick Clooney. In the book, he talks about the 20 movies (19 from Hollywood, 1 from Germany) that sparked something in the country's social or political consciousness.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) changed the way Americans and Europeans viewed US’s involvement in the Second World War giving the viewers a glimpse of what the war was really like and what it was like to be a young man during the war. Star Wars (1977) changed the way movies were made and the way technology was used in the movies.

Taxi Driver (1976), which inspired a guy to attempt an assassination of President Reagan, helped to tilt the public opinion towards the support of strong gun control laws. The public opinion had been the opposite previously. Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) contributed in dismantling the shackles of the Hollywood Production Code which was a nightmare to any director trying to stretch his/her creativity or imagination or their artistic ability. Those set of censorships which prevented movies from depicting any sexual scenes, sexual perversion, ‘lustful’ activities and comedy movies from having seduction as their theme prevented many directors from exercising their artistic freedom. Thanks to ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’, movies like Superbad (2007) or The Hangover (2009) or American Pie Series can breathe life in screen at our times.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) changed the way world viewed the nuclear arms mania of the cold war period. Through humor, it gave the public a glimpse on the real threats posed by the nuclear race to the human civilization. Similarly, Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator(1940), challenged Hitler’s image of invincible ruler bound to conquer the world depicting him as an insecure clown and thereby changed the way the world thought of Hitler.

Looking back at our cinemas or even Bollywood, I find very few movies that were instrumental in creating or influencing changes in the society. Tulsi Ghimire’s Balidaan could be one and Bhusan Dahal’s “Kagbeni” could be the second. Such state of affairs is a sad one for a film industry (?) that has been making films for about 6 decades already. Our rich history that consists of numerous revolutions, our culture that encompasses numerous ethnic groups with their own traditions, norms and language, recent civil war and the thousands of stories and characters it has created whose stories remain untold, the transition that our country is going through, they all demand a clear stand of the public on major issues. Numerous social issues such as untouchability, marginalization of certain groups, the immense diversity of the people all over the country, these issues that could highly be celebrated remain untouched by our movies. If the movie makers and the stakeholders knew where to look for their stories and had a little more trust on the taste of the public, Kollywood too could boast of masterpieces. We could find many movies that would change us, for better or for worse.

-Surath Giri

(Published  in the Republica daily of 18th January 2011 as "Fledgling Nepali Cinema needs more wings")

Jan 14, 2011

The story of Hong Kong: A Free Market Odyssey

"Hong Kong at night."   Source: Wikipedia
Heritage Foundation has released its annual report on economic freedom around the world for 2011. Hong Kong, the 'fragrant harbor' still reigns as the freest economy in the world with a score of 89.7 out of the possible 100. Hong Kong serves as an example of how markets, if allowed to work freely, can create a truly dynamic and prosperous society. With its area spread over just 1104 square kilometers and nothing to its stock of natural resources except a harbor, Hong Kong has created one of the most affluent societies in the world with a  population of more than 7 million people (6,349 people per sq. km) who earn an average of $42,748 (PPP) in a year.



There is a general perception that Hong Kong developed because it was a British colony and there is a similar perception (which too is just a myth) about India in Nepal. From general public to so called intellectuals and even civil servants (as far as I have met) share this perception. However, if we look at the facts, during 1960s , Hong Kong followed a path that was highly contrasting to UK. When UK was succumbing to socialism and had almost turned to Soviet Kingdom, Hong Kong resisted the socialist temptations and kept its economy free which is the reason why its economy grew steadily over the decades without any serious setbacks. The fact that per capita income of Hong Kong is higher than the per capita income of United Kingdom by a whooping $8129 alone proves that United Kingdom has nothing to do with Hong Kong's progress. Instead, had United Kingdom learned something from its colony, it would have been better off.


Contrast Hong Kong with Nepal, which is considered a very rich country in terms of natural resources  with an area of 1,47,181 sq. kms and more than 25 million people. A Nepalese citizen on an average earns just $1,205 per capita (PPP). Nepal ranks 146th in the above mentioned economic freedom index with a score of 50.1 out of 100 for the year which is worse as compared to last year when it ranked 130th with a score of 52.7. I wonder what Nepal would be like if it followed the right path, like Hong Kong, believing in the ability of free individuals to innovate and prosper rather than encumbering their efforts through state intervention and failing to maintain the basic requisites for a free society, rule of law and maintaining peace and order. With the growing trend just in the opposite direction, I find very little reasons to be hopeful.

Jan 12, 2011

10 easy to read books that will teach you about economics , wealth and prosperity

Many a times after engaging in a debate on issues of public policy or economies, one response I invariably get is; “I didn’t know economics could be that interesting. Can you recommend me some books on economics that are easy to read and understand, ones that don’t have too many indecipherable figures and codes, something that can teach me to relate economics with day to day examples as you did now?”

They can’t be blamed for their view of economics. Economics has long been accused of being too abstract, irrelevant, unrealistic and boring subject.  Economics for a layman has been a subject of experts. It’s all about curves, figures and numbers that has little if any, to do with our daily lives. However, the truth is that, economics isn’t all about, or I would rather say, it isn’t primarily about curves, diagrams, codes and numbers. Economics and fun needn’t be contradictory terms.

Today, I would like to present you the top ten books that are easy to read and understand which will teach you a lot about economics, wealth and prosperity. And take my word; you won’t be bored unless you have a dire disgust towards reading itself.

1.Common Sense Economics: As the name suggests, if you have common sense, you'll understand this book pretty well. The alternative title of this book is "What everyone should know about wealth and prosperity" . I believe by now you can pretty well guess what the book is about and what it will be like.

2.In Defense of Global Capitalism: In defense of global capitalism is an easy to read explanation of how the spread of the free market economy has brought about the swiftest reduction of hunger and poverty in human history. It explains how the world is getting more prosperous and wealthy through policies of free markets.

Note: If you love to believe that capitalism is about letting rich people do whatever they like and letting poor people die or if you love to take word by word what our politicians say about capitalism (capitalism is the cause of all this mess, capitalism is what USA does, capitalism is evil etc etc.), you might find the book very shocking as it has tons of facts and examples that point otherwise.

3.Economics in One Lesson: FYI, the book has more than one lesson but it is one hell of a simple read that will give you lots of insights to principles of economics and their implications in our daily lives.

4.The Choice: A fable of free trade and protectionism:
Written by one of my most favorite economic writers , Russell Roberts, The Choice teaches you about the various aspects of free trade and protectionism in the simplest form possible..i.e a story. If you love reading stories, you'll definitely love this book.

5.The Price of Everything: It is another book written by Russell Roberts. It teaches why everything has a price and how prices are one of the most wonderful inventions of human societies. As it is with every other book by Roberts, it's in the form of fiction too.

6.The Deal Maker: Written by Rakesh Wadhwa, whose articles appear regularly in leading newspapers of Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and the US, The Deal Maker is an easy to read novel with lots of twists, suspense and subplots and of course, lessons in economics and how any country can get prosperous.

7.The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: Have you read the classic "Gulliver's Travels"? If you liked the book, you'll surely like The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible. Jonathan Gullible finds various kinds of people with various economic concepts and behaviors. Along the way, he learns a lot.

8.The Ultimate Resource: Remember your school days when a subject called "Population, Health and Environment" terrified you with a grim picture of the world where the rapid growth of population is going to threaten our existence? The author of this book seems to believe just the opposite. He thinks population is our ultimate resource and the source of prosperity and he ain't kidding.

9.Free Your Mind: A beginner's guide to Political Economy: This book is even simpler as compared to other books I mentioned but not a bit less interesting and definitely not less informative. Targeted for teenagers, the presentation style of this book is amazing. It covers topics such as employment, free trade, public administration, inflation, environment , poverty etc. Know why money is called "bucks'? The author also says , Statutory Warning! Socialist Democracy Is Very Bad For Your Health! (You’d Be Better Off Chain Smoking!) and he too ain't kidding!

10.Free to Choose: I am not sure if all the chapters of this book would be very easy to understand but I highly recommend you to read the first couple of chapters. This book is supposed to have influenced many influential politicians and general people all around the world. After a few chapters, you'll know why.

Well, that's it. Have you read any of these books? If yes, what do you think about them? Please share your thoughts and view points. If you have any similar books in mind, please share about it in the comment box below!

Jan 9, 2011

Privatization: The way of the future

Image Source:www.ktm2day.com
The recent report presented by a high level commission formed by the government to study about the performance of the state owned enterprises presents the dire state of these enterprises.  Majority of our public enterprises are running on losses and are burdensome for the state. This state of affairs is an irony to the very objective of establishing such enterprises i.e. provide public with the goods and services at affordable prices and contribute in the economic growth of the nation. Not only these state owned enterprises running on losses are having negative impact on nation’s growth but the goods and services they are producing are far from satisfying consumer needs. The commission has rightly advised for different measures for the improvement of these enterprises ranging from selling shares to adapting the private public partnership management to closing down some of them.

Once upon a time

Once upon a time, people all over the world, mostly in the communist countries and the Third world countries used to think, state operated enterprises are the panacea to all the needs of the society. The advent of the cold war saw a massive wave of creation of huge state owned and operated enterprises as well as nationalization of major industries all over the world. However, these ventures disregarded some basic principles of markets and human behaviors and were bound to fail. The basic human nature that says people are self-interested, they care for what they own and whatever belongs to no one falls into disrepair was violated when tax payers' money was used to establish these ventures. As for the people who worked in them, had little or no incentive at all to sustain and grow these enterprises.

Another violation was the principle of markets - for an enterprise to be profitable or sustainable for that matter, it has to work under the law of supply and demand. It has to respond to the signals of the various market forces. Failing to heed to market forces would eventually result in losses and shifting of resources to more efficient sectors. State owned enterprises violated this principle because they were supposed to run on bureaucratic codes and regulations rather than by responding to market signals.

Another major principle violated was the natural tendency of corruption to breed wherever political affairs are involved. State owned enterprises being under the political control no wonder became the breeding grounds for corruption. The result, SOEs all over the world became the breeding ground for corruption and epitome of inefficiency, financial disasters.

However, during the 1980s, under the leaderships of Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the USA, privatization of state owned enterprises gained worldwide momentum. After the fall of Soviet empire and end of cold war in the 1990s, when capitalism emerged as the only practical way of organizing a society, nations all over the world started deregulating industries and privatizing or disinvesting their public enterprises with much success. The general trend over a period of time has been lower prices, improved quality, more choices, less corruption, less red tape, and quicker delivery of services.  The general trend all over the world has been of liberalization and privatization of most of the public enterprises.

Once in a place

Nepal had its own fair share of public enterprises established during the Panchayat era. During the mid sixties to early eighties, the government invested large sums of money in the establishment and expansion of public enterprises (PE’s) in all sector of the economy from banking to trading, public utilities to manufacturing and social service. The concept of privatization came into focus in the sixth plan review on PE’s which showed a bleak picture of the return on the investments done on public enterprises leading to the decision of selling some of the public enterprises. During the 1990s a limited liberalization was done and a number of public enterprises privatized.

Some of the results were increase in choice and living standard of consumers, cheaper and better airlines, better banking services and spurts of various private endeavors. Behind the scene too, the administrative and fiscal burden of the government was reduced to some extent.  However, the privatization of some public enterprises such as Raghupati jute mills, Bansbari Tannary Industry, Bhrikuti Paper factory were marred with political controversy generated mostly due to ideological conflict and misinforming propagandas. The too often quoted case of “Bansbari Tannary privatization” that resulted in closure of the business is more of propaganda than a fact. Contrary to the rumors, the factory was shut down because it could not compete anymore with the cheap imported Chinese shoes and the machinery of the tannery was too old that it had become obsolete.

The failure of the then proponents of liberalization to highlight the gains of privatization and the politically controversy made the process come to a halt and hasn’t been able to move very far since then.

Current time

Image Source:www.life.com
More than half of the 36 public enterprises that we have now are operating under losses and the amount of accumulated loss is alarming. Except for a few of them, public enterprises are epitome of corruption, inefficiency and financial disasters. More than 30 percent of the government’s initial investment of 86 billion rupees has already been lost.  In the fiscal year 065/066 alone, only 4 of the public enterprises paid dividend of Rs. 3 billion and 470 millions to the government which is just about 4.3 percent return on the investment. Some of the public enterprises have even negative net worth owing to the continuous losses over a long period of time. The scenario is a kick on the face of any fiscal prudence.

As most of the functions of these enterprises are being taken up by private sector which is performing pretty well, the dire state of public enterprises is surfacing even more clearly due to the contrast effect. Take for example the case of state run Janakpur cigarette factory versus private Surya tobacco. Janakpur Cigarette Factory has an accumulated loss of more than a billion rupees and has been operating on loss for almost two decades now. It has more than 1100 staffs. Compare it to Surya tobacco which is one of the largest taxpayer of the country which has about 900 staffs. The scenario is not very different in the case of many of our public enterprises.

The future

As suggested by the Public Enterprises evaluation commission, privatizing and changing the ownership of the ailing public enterprises is the only practical solution for the government. With all the political instability going on and the ineffectiveness of the state being heightened in crucial areas like law and order , justice administration and infrastructure development , reducing the administrative burden of the government is a must for proper functioning of the government. Similarly, reducing the economic burden of public enterprises from the ailing economy of ours could be an important step towards reviving our economy.

As the commission has advised different ways to improve the performances of public enterprises including privatization, public private ownership, cooperative ownership, merging of two or more public enterprises and introducing them to PPP and shutting down, it’s very important that the government act on the suggestion quickly and effectively. If the government decides to keep owning and running them based on some dogmatic ideological principles or pressurized by the vested interest of the group that benefits from the poor performing public enterprises, they will continue to be a drain on our economy.

-Surath Giri
(Published in The Himalayan Times of 30th Jan 2011-Perspectives Page 3)