Socio-cultural solidarity For economic development

Solidarity, in fact, is synonym to the word unity in the modern days. It is very important for the sustenance and growth of a family, society or a nation as it binds people together. In Nepal, thrust has always been given to solidarity at all the levels. The Nepalese model of solidarity is based on the pillars of spirituality, religious tolerance, social cohesion, human values and charity. Yet, of late there has been certain erosion in social and cultural values in Nepal. Each successive day, there is growth in individualism, consumerism, greed, violence, terror, selfishness and crime in the society. Also, there is decline in community feeling, tolerance, honesty and compassion.

Inequality of income and opportunities among different sections of the society has been well underlined in one of Asian Development Bank’s recent report. It categorically pinpoints that inequality grew most in Nepal, apart from countries like China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka between 1990 and 2005.

Growing inequality in income and resources has created problems all over the world. Be it social, cultural, economic or political unrest, they all swell on unequal distribution of resources. Even terrorism at the global thrived on unequal distribution of resources. As many as 40 to 60 countries with over 2 billion population in today’s world are sliding backward mainly on this account.

Yet not much effort has been made

globally for addressing the problem of unequal distribution of income and resources. The Helsinki-based World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University (UNU-WIDER) in its study has found that the richest 2 per cent of the adults at the global level own over half of global household wealth. Rather, the richest percentage of adults have 40 per cent of the global assets in their possession. And the richest 10 per cent of adults have 85 per cent of world’s total wealth. On the contrary, the bottom half of the world’s adult population own merely one per cent of global wealth,

Wealth is unevenly concentrated in North America, Europe and high-income Asia-Pacific countries. People in these countries collectively account for world’s 90 per cent of total wealth. Moreover, wealth is most unevenly distributed even within the countries. The top 10 per cent of the population in a country like China hold 40 per cent of wealth; whereas in the USA this percentage is found to be 70 per cent. One of the reasons of over concentration of wealth is that the few so called successful investors promote economic growth in complete disregard of millions of common people living mostly in villages. An impression is created that the common people are meant for creating overpopulation and that they are incompetent. It is often forgotten that the greed to hoard more and more at the cost of the others is not in the interest of even the hoarders. The present recession in the mighty economy of the United States of America is its glaring example

In India, too, despite the GDP growth rate of 9.4 per cent for the fiscal year 2006-2007, there is a dichotomy of two India — one “haves India” and the other of “haves-not India.” The annual unemployment rate in the country is over 10 per cent. And the people below the poverty line are accounted for 35 per cent. In Nepal, even the Maoist insurgency thrived mainly on account of unequal income and opportunities. And the present unrest that is perceptible in the Tarai region at the present time is largely attributed to this factor alone.

Yet, opportunities are

not all lost. It is not that difficult to save Nepal from further chaos if there is a will at certain level to bring positive change. Singapore is an example in this regard.

All the southern states of America such as Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Atlanta were not much developed until the early 1960s. But today they are on the forefront of economic development in the United States of America. Alabama has turned to be global hub of economic activities. Georgia has emerged as 17th largest economy in the world. Not very far off, countries like India, China and Dubai transformed themselves from underdeveloped stage to world’s most prosperous economies.

For Nepal to develop, it would not take much time to address economic mismanagement and transform conflict into peace if the government and stakeholders solidly resolve to improve the quality of human resources, promote capital formation and create environment for infrastructural development. Solidarity in Nepal will be exemplified when the scientists start contributing towards solving environmental challenges, doctors discover new medicines, engineers advance the society, entrepreneurs generate prosperity, educators lay the foundation for future generations and government works together to advance peace, prosperity and stability. This is as much true for the development of America or any other country as it is true for Nepal.

Professor Jha is Executive Director of Centre for Economic and Technical Studies