This is common practice for the political leaders in developing world to sell myriads of developmental dreams in order to garner support and votes in domestic politics. The project of selling dreams tends to continue for years without significant achievements. Nepal is no exception in this case. Regimes changed, political systems changed, political actors changed but the project of selling dreams remained the same.
But there is hardly any significant achievement on ‘dream selling project’. For example A long derailed project ‘Melamchi water Supply Project’ of supplying 170 million liters per day water to Kathmandu valley which was initiated around 2 decades ago has yet to be realized. Bureaucratic hurdles, geo-political instability, fragile political situation and lethargy of political leadership are cited as most common causes of project delay and withdrawal of foreign investors from these projects. The Australian SMEC also pulled out of a much anticipated export-oriented ‘West Seti hydropower project’, in western Nepal four years back after battling bureaucracies in India and Nepal for two decades. The Norwegian company Statkraft working for the $1.5 billion Tama Kosi III in Dolakha since 2007 on the dam that would have generated 650MW of electricity for export to India has decided to back out of the project in January this year. Similarly, the progress of ‘Madhya PahadiLokmarga’, a proposed highway connecting east and west of the country through hilly region and ‘HulakiMarga’, a proposed highway parallel to ‘Madhya PahadiLokmarga’ in terai region is also depressing. Similar is the fate of almost all development projects in Nepal.
Nepalese young population is frustrated with current sorry state of affairs and is desperate to see the change in real terms of development and quality life and that too within their lifetime.
But still the project of selling dreams has been continuously successful in Nepal. Time and again ‘selling of dreams’ project is being capitalized by leaders and are successful in garnering support from certain sections of society. Some even show up in streets to support such projects.
One might observe this support as swing towards romanticization and one can also argue that people can easily be fooled by politicians. But this support also have a veiled message, that is Nepalese young population is frustrated with current sorry state of affairs and is desperate to see the change in real terms of development and quality life and that too within their lifetime. According to census of 2011, the active population comprise of almost 57% of total population meaning that Nepal have sufficient manpower to move in direction of development.
However, if regulatory mechanisms are made practicable and government put its effort in creating conducive environment for the investment many semi-government entities are showing their interest in making investment choices in areas like hydropower, which comprise the lucrative part of dream selling project. During a recent consultation meeting at the Ministry of Energy, new Energy Minister expressed hope that Rs 100 billion could be generated from within the country for the investment on hydropower. The Employees’ Provident Fund informed that it could invest up to Rs 32 billion; while the Citizens Investment Trust could extend Rs 21 billion; Insurance Corporation Rs 5 billion; Nepal Telecom and The Military Welfare Fund Rs 10 billion each.
Similarly, there is significant growth in Chinese investment. According to the Department of Industry (DoI), which registers industries, investment pledges from China stood at $57 million (6.21 billion Nepalese rupees) against the total FDI pledge of $140 million (15.13 billion Nepalese rupees) last fiscal that concluded in mid-July. A total of 125 industries containing FDI from Chinese were registered in the last fiscal year out of total FDI-based industries of 341 registered at DoI.
The need of the hour is to act on channelizing this enthusiasm of investors in actual investments by assuring them of appropriate environment and returns from the investment.
Puspa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has been recently elected as Prime minister of Nepal for the second time. He lead a violent civil war against the state for a decade from 1996 to 2006 selling dreams of not only prosperous Nepal but also of society based on social justice and equality. His first premiership in Nepal ended in bitter taste shattering all the expectations of large section of Nepali society. This time with some of the popular and untested young leaders as ministers, Dhahal faces dual challenges of implementation of newly drafted constitution addressing demands of different ethnic groups including Madhesis and at the same time act aggressively towards fulfilling development expectations of young generation. Another important challenge for his government will be to normalize the soured relationship with India and act tactfully in channelizing foreign investment from China. For this, the newly formed government, which is believed by many as a short term government for less than a year, have to work in direction of delivering on long awaited dreams fighting rampant corruption, removing bureaucratic hurdles and creating appropriate environment for those who want to work and invest in Nepal. This is not only linked with fulfilling development aspirations of the country but is also linked with political career of PM himself and the ministers having popular support and high expectations. This is also time to deliver to prove that this newly established ‘republican democracy’ is best political system for prosperity and development in Nepal which is necessary to justify different forms of struggles against autocratic rules to bring this new system.