It is humbly submitted that a new Nepal be built on the market as the 5th Pillar of the new state. This needs to be duly recognised and enriched in the Constitution. The market, as an institution, not only allows for poverty eradication, as historically proven, but guarantees economic freedom to all
Political and social revolutions can be ushered in through violence or non violence. However, neither gains will be peaceful, and self sustaining, unless garnered and nourished by factors and forces of economics.
First and foremost, the long winded Preamble envisioning a “socialist state” must be expunged. For the simple reason that the Constitution must be neutral to any political ideology— capitalism, socialism, communism, pragmatism.
After all, it is the right of the political party in power, with or without a coalition government, to rule the country as per its election manifesto. And who knows what new political ideologies can appear in the 21st century as the world is: (a) battered by climate change and global warming that threatens the very existence of planet Earth; (b) threatened by unprecedented inequality of income and wealth where the so called ’sovereign individuals’ own more assets and income than sovereign nation states calling for new national and international economic structures and financial architecture for democratic governance; (c) undeniably facing a clash of civilisations and cultures where individuals, nations and regions seek their own identities.
Furthermore, as a vision statement it is faulty. What is the sought after final destination envisaged by the phrase “socialist state”? This is unknown. Hence the phrase only specifies a journey which may be perfectly acceptable as mission statements of all manner socialist parties but quite inappropriate in the Constitution’s preamble.
Notwithstanding the above points of view, let us remind ourselves that we, as a nation, have freely chosen to join the WTO in 2004 and are, thus, bound by our international treaty obligations. WTO requires of us to not just provide MFN treatment to foreign businesses but, so too, ‘national treatment’. WTO also protects our vulnerable status of being a ‘yam between two boulders’ by disallowing infringement of our transit rights. Indeed, it after we signed the WTO treaty we began to think afresh towards engaging proactively with all our neighbours through such conceptual innovations as SAGQ/SASEC/BBIN, BIMSTEC and, lately, China, India and Nepal Trilateral Cooperation.
The reason why we joined the WTO is to be part and parcel of the globalisation process by opening our economy and society to the outside world inviting global technology, human and intellectual and financial capital; as well as having Nepali workers to join the international labour market and Nepalese businesses to trade and invest abroad and, hopefully, invent our very own MNCs in the process.
All these international economic goals call for robust multilateral, regional and subregional economic diplomacy and passionate patriotism—not narrow minded nationalism as imbibed so glaringly in the draft Constitution. It smacks of a geo psychological inferiority complex in our political leadership forgetting that we are the 45th largest country amidst the 200 nations around the globe.
Inward looking nationalism is out of tune with the emerging new world order of the 21st century since it is going to be an international order built on a balance of power between regional blocs. This hypothesis will be soon tested as post Referendum Greece will not be exited by Germany and France from either the Euro or EU. Greece’s civilisational contribution and geography are far too vital for the people of Europe as a whole, as well as US’ interest and NATO.
It is humbly submitted that a new Nepal be built on the market as the 5th Pillar of the new state. This needs to be duly recognised and enriched in the Constitution. The market, as an institution, not only allows for poverty eradication, as historically proven, but guarantees economic freedom to all.
Socialists and communists dislike Adam Smith, Father of Modern Economics, conveniently forgetting that it was his intellectual contribution that ended feudalism in Europe by ushering in the Industrial Revolution in UK that later spread all over Europe and North America. They dislike the fact that it is not through the benevolence of the state and the political masters that we progress materially as a nation; but actually do so by pursing our own self interest in a spirit of free competition with freedom of entry and exit in compliance with the rule of law.
We need a Competition Commission as a constitutionally chartered autonomous institution and a Competition Act duly promulgated by the Parliament on which basis the Competition Commission is empowered to make judgement to protect the market as a fundamental institution of Nepal.
It is on the foundation of classical Smith that we now universally invoke Private Public Partnerships (3Ps) for optimal economic management in the wake of huge risks and uncertainties in the 21st century global world economic order.
It is often forgotten how intensely moral Adam Smith was. He was a pre eminent moral philosopher. Faced with the ill repute that 21st century financial capitalism has generated for itself, it may be time now for the state to promote the new concept of ‘compassionate capitalism’ where moral markets are promoted through sound and firm legal and judicial systems, as well as good corporate and entrepreneurial ethical behaviour.
Rana is Professor SAIM and former finance minister