Nov 30, 2012

Moral Criticisms of Capitalism: Paul Heyne's Thoughts!

Paul Heyne
Yesterday I stumbled upon a lecture titled 'The Moral Critics of Capitalism' by Paul Heyne. It's a shame that I had never heard of him before. Paul Heyne, as I have come to know now, is the author of the acclaimed textbook "The Economic Way of Thinking" and was one of the legendary teachers of economics in United States. I loved this lecture which happens to be his last public lecture and was delivered on given February 17, 2000 in Seattle.

In this lecture he talks about the moral criticisms of capitalism or as he would prefer to say 'market-coordinated' system. As a person who came to the field of economics from theology, he indeed has interesting perspectives on the morality of free market system. Previously an ardent Marxist, Haynes started reading economics when his friends suggested him that he might be on the right track by criticizing capitalism but it would help him if he studied some economics as well. He says later on he found  that 'almost all of the moral criticisms of capitalism that he had been triumphantly parading around in the seminary campus were misunderstandings'. He argues that capitalism evolves naturally and competition is an inevitable thing as long (Read forever) as there is scarcity.

He also says that there, however, is a very valid moral criticism of capitalism that is often forgotten by the moral critics. Capitalism subverts community which almost every one of us are fond of. He suggests people to find ways to nurture community without destroying the market so that we can get the best of both worlds.

You can listen to the lecture here:
So what do you think? Feel free to post your comments below:

Nov 18, 2012

Destination Nepal

Blessed with mesmerising natural beauty and one of the rarest entourage of natural and cultural heritages in the world, Nepal could easily attract millions of tourists — at least in theory. But the highest number of tourists we have received in a year so far was some 736,215 in 2011, which was short of the initial target of a million tourists by more than one-fourth. Similarly, the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) remains less than four per cent.

Nepal’s tourism potential can be estimated by the fact that the total number of tourists that arrived in Nepal in 2011 was just about one per cent of the total outbound Chinese tourists and about six per cent of the total outbound Indian tourists in the same year. With rapid economic growth and a growing middle class, the numbers of outbound tourists from both nations are expected to increase significantly. Hence, even if a significant portion of either Chinese or Indian tourists could be attracted to Nepal, tourism could play a major role in the economic growth of the country. But this is easier said than done.

Problems galore

For a tourist intending to visit Nepal, problems start at home. Travel advisory warnings issued by foreign governments regarding Nepal during the civil war period are still in place, forcing tourists to reconsider their travel destination. Meanwhile, due to the lack of effective marketing, especially online marketing, Nepal is yet to receive the international recognition it deserves with regards to tourism.

Then comes the somewhat hard to find and unreasonably expensive air travel to Nepal. After major international airlines like Lufthansa, Aeroflot and Singapore Airlines cancelled operations in Nepal, there is no direct flight connectivity between Nepal and Europe as well as Northern America. Expensive ground-handling charges, monopolised by Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), has been constantly cited as a prominent problem by other airlines. Similarly, the deplorable performance of NAC has resulted in sign-ificant portion of the money spent by tourists to Nepal going to foreign airlines.

Similarly, the poor condition and performance of the country’s only international airport gives a very shoddy first impression. The continuous labour strikes, bandhs and other disruptions, along with the poor state of tourism infrastructures accentuate the negative image, whereas lack of innovation in the tourism sector have limited the choice of tourists to the decades old and already saturated destinations and activities.

Domestic tourism, which has grown rapidly in recent years, suffers from negligence from both the government and private sector. Inconsistency of policies is one of the factors affecting domestic tourism, for example, though domestic tourists are recognized as tourists, they are not allowed to use tourist vehicles for commuting.

What can be done

First and foremost, a makeover of the NAC is necessary. The public-private partnership (PPP) model could be followed for this, but it will also be necessary to look into other options like full privatisation in case the PPP model does not work properly. Also, incentives to international airlines to operate in Nepal must be improved. To this end, more open air service agreements should be implemented.

Since internet is becoming the primary source of information for citizens around the world, it is imperative that Nepal also focuses its marketing efforts online rather than just the traditional mediums. As China and India are developing as major sources of tourist inflow for Nepal, marketing campaigns should focus on these two countries. But while India and China could be the major source of volume, European and North American nations can be the source of high-value tourists.

Attracting these new sources of tourists requires innovation in the packages Nepal will have to offer. Developing religious tourism could be an effective means of catering to the Indian and Chinese tourists. Hence, the upcoming priorities of the concerned authorities,especially the government and Nepal Tourism Board, should be to develop major religious destinations of the country like Lumbini, Pashupatinath and equip them with appropriate tourism infrastructures.

The discourse related to tourism in Nepal is overwhelmingly focused on dev-eloping tourism for economic growth. However, the fact is, economic growth and development also attract more tourists, especially the high value tourists. For example, Hong Kong, despite its very limited tourism resources, attracts more than 36 million tourists a year and India’s tourism growth has been, in part, a correlation to its rapid economic growth.

With right actions, Nepal’s tourism sector could be the best sector to bring prosperity to the country.

-Surath Giri