Wednesday, August 12, 2020

'Cabals and Cartels' running and ruining Nepal

What might have gone behind the walls of Washington DC-headquartered World Bank after the 'allegations' of government mismanagement of Prime Minister Employment Fund that received support by the multilateral development partner, the question naturally comes to a reader's mind after going through the Ken Ohashi 'gone native' saga in Rajib Upadhya’s ‘Cabals and Cartels’.

Upadhya writes, in the book that was launched on Thursday, that Ohashi's 'fierce sense of loyalty to the client – the people of Nepal – ultimately tarnished his own legacy in the eyes of World Bank senior management.' 

It is rather a very strong statement because of its messaging that will help understand role of development partners in Nepal, though over the time many of them have been forced to change, according to the need of Nepal's national interest.

Every chapter of Upadhya's book, ‘Cabals and Cartels’, forces readers to think on how Nepal has been run and ruined by cabals and cartels, not only have the political parties have repeatedly broken their promises but also have they pushed the country back to poverty and underdeveloped stage. 

The book – in it's so strongly crafted and worded language – takes readers to a tour of Nepal of the last decade, from political transformation, to fighting against insurgency, and economic reform to a gamut of issues that could have developed Nepal or at least have made Nepal a better country than it is today.

The current generation of Nepalis witnessed – or it is politically correct to say lived – the fast changing regimes, natural disasters like devastating earthquake, and pandemic but a prosperous life, or even a democratic and economically liberal life, deluded them. “What magic did the developed countries did and Nepalis missed,” asks the author Upadhya in his speech during the book launch.

But economist Bishwo Poudel –a panelist at the book launching ceremony – has a different view on rapidly changing regimes in Nepal. He says the age of democracy is determined by the per capita income of the country. “Countries with less than $1,000 per capita has only 12 years age of democracy," he quoted various studies. And it seems true to Nepal.

Published by Fine Print, the 282-page book – ‘Cabals and the Cartels’ – is not only a memoir of a development professional, but also a deep observation of a Nepali into the bureaucracy, political parties, and of course development partners.

Once one starts reading the book, it is hard to put down, as it is so gripping, and interwoven; the relations between government, political parties, development partners and special interest groups in various colour and costumes make the reading interesting. By the end of the book, a reader can easily come to a conclusion, why Nepal has been politically unstable for so long.

The former journalist and development professional Upadhya, says, in the form of a book that how ‘cabal politics ’and ‘market cartels’, conflict between good public policy and rent-seeking mentality sabotaged Nepali's hope of a prosperous country.

Upadhya also claimed that he wanted to expose readers to the grave risks that the cabals and the cartels pose to democratic stability and equitable prosperity. "I felt I needed to present the evidence as to how they distort the priorities of the state and market institutions and distract us from our national goals,” he said.

“Cabals and Cartels is an outstanding narrative of political and economic transitions," another panelist at the book launching ceremony, a development professional, Hima Bista said. “The book is a must read for anyone, especially for foreign development professionals, who wants to understand Nepal's development scenario.”

Likewise, senior journalist, Kishor Nepal – moderating the panel – said that Upadhya’s book is a vivid portrait of contemporary Nepal. "Many books are written about Nepal in English, but most of them are of touristy type," he said, adding that but the book – 'Cabals and the Cartels' – digs deep into the painful realities of the nation called Nepal that has yet not become a nation state.

No comments: