Unleashing Nepal

How column writing can lead to writing books
Since the first column appeared in this paper eight years ago, the Beed has been harping on the paucity of people writing with a common sense perspective on issues of business and the economy. Perhaps Nepali readers prefer political commentary and the lack of demand for good economic analysis does not prompt people to take writing on business and the economy seriously. Perhaps my fellow page-mate Ashutosh Tiwari and I will always remain on the endangered species list. Is it really true that people do not want to keep themselves informed on business or the economy or do they simply consider the topics too serious to be bothered with? Do economic journalists feel left out as their colleagues hobnob with powerful politicians? Do a feudal mindset and reminiscences of the Shah and Rana regimes still mean we feel gratified whenever politicians acknowledge us? In India, on the other hand, political analysts have started trying out business journalism and hordes of presswallahs now shun netas to go after business tycoons.

For this Beed, the writing of a column, over the years, has evolved from a hobby into a serious occupation. The more I wrote and the more feedback I received, the more my perspectives developed along with my curiosity. Fortnightly deadlines forced me to look at issues in a bit more depth and interact with different stakeholders with much more vigour. I didn't just comment on budgets, but started wondering, how does it affect the common man? Are budgets necessary? When the financial crisis took the world by storm, I began to think, how do we defend capitalism? My travels brought me into contact with different sections of society from different countries, helping me really understand how Nepal is different or similar to these countries. The analysis of the present was never possible without understanding the past and the more I tried to understand the past, the more I became concerned about our present state of hopelessness.

All this has now culminated in a book. Unleashing Nepal is published by Penguin India and looks at Nepal from the perspective of a lay person looking at the state of the economy and asking a few simple questions. What made Nepal one of the poorest nations in the world and is there no hope? What hope for the young people who comprise half the population of a country that is 40th in the world in terms of population size? What hope for a country that just needs to latch its carriages to the superfast engines of neighbouring India and China? What hope for people who have smiles as their greatest asset? What hope for the hundreds of thousands of Nepalis who leave Nepal in search of greener pastures, who strive to transform themselves from migrant workers into NRNs? What hope for the water resources that can ensure Nepal earns more than Saudi Arabia just by selling energy? The list is endless and if we can make just a few of these ideas really happen, Nepal and Nepalis will surely be better off.

The book has been possible because of the readers of this column, who continuously encouraged the Beed to keep going and walk the extra mile. As the book is launched in Kathmandu next week, this Beed really wants to take the opportunity to thank all his readers for the encouragement that inspired him to keep going from column to column.

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